In 1959, Mattel released a doll that gave little girls a standard to what they should think of their bodies and sense of self. Blonde, busty, and tall, the perfect role model with the perfect clothes; that’s Barbie in a nutshell. The Barbie enterprise has skyrocketed in the last few years, coming out with new models, new accessories, and even movies. Some, however, are fearful of Barbie’s powerful influence on children.
“The Barbie Chronicles,” performed by the communication department’s performance ensemble, discusses Barbie and how she’s affected women’s identities, including body image, class, gender, and race.
“The Barbie Chronicles,” adapted from the book, is a collection of stories, journal articles, and poems that have been written on Barbie and how she has negatively predisposed children to think about their bodies. In real life, Barbie would be 5 feet 9 inches tall, 110 pounds, have a bust of 39 inches, a waist of 18 inches, and 33-inch hips. Since the size three feet on Barbie would be unable to support her proportions, Barbie would have to walk on all fours.
The cast of “The Barbie Chronicles” helped to write this perceptive play that sheds light on what Barbie really represents to the millions of young girls who play with her. “We want to tell the audience to rethink how we see Barbie. Barbie is telling women that this is what beautiful men and woman look like. Some people let their children play with Barbies, but what is she really teaching us? Is she really a good role model?” said Courtney Gruttemeyer, director of the play. The cast of the show is comprised of an eclectic group, all with different backgrounds and majors, but with the same goal- educating the audience about what Barbie really embodies.
With each generation, Barbie has become more risqu’eacute;. Perhaps Barbie’s dresses have become shorter to keep up with the competition, such as Bratz dolls. Regardless, a child should not have to worry about living up to the standards of their toys, and that is unfortunately what has come to happen.
The Barbie Chronicles also looks at how race is represented. Barbie is of course the most popular of the dolls, but we mustn’t forget about her friends and ethnic counterparts; Teresa, Christie, Miko, and Dana, are just a few dolls that represent different races. However, their bodies and facial structures are identical to that of the white Barbie. The bodies and faces of the dolls are too similar to accurately depict different races.
“The Barbie Chronicles” opens on May 8th and will run until May 9th. The production will be at the Studio Theater in Nordhoff hall, and admission is free. If you are looking for an enjoyable time without paying a dime, then “The Barbie Chronicle” is the place to be. For tickets, contact the AS office at 818-677-2488. More information can be found on the website, at www.performanceensemble.com .