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Such artifacts portray a standard of beauty that interferes with the construction of gender identity and the education of girls during childhood. One of the changes observed in the behaviors of girls, with multiple resonances in Brazilian schools, is in regard to the concern with aesthetics and beauty. Stimulated by families and the fashion goods and products market, with broad coverage in the print, televised and virtual media, the day-to-day life of girls is marked by practices of beautification of the body aimed at the achievement of beauty.
Dieting, skin care, use of creams and make-up, visiting beauty salons for nail and hair care straightening, brushing, dyeing , shopping for clothes and dressing in such a way as to show off beautiful and fashionable appearances, are consumer concepts and practices that construct the culture of appearance shared among contemporary girls.
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The underlying question that permeates the analysis, in this article, is the understanding of the connections between children's fashion and education, by approaching the roles performed by the media in the production of subjectivities in children, particularly in girls, for the consumption of esthetic standards that define the notion of beauty. With this goal, one of the communication artifacts developed by the print media to stimulate consumption of beauty products and concepts among girls: books that use the central character of the Barbie doll, used as an instrument to discuss and to show girls how "to be beautiful" or which will make them "become beautiful".
Among the projects produced with this feature one can find the book Dicas da Barbie , by Fabiane Ariello , used here to approach the influences and appropriations of esthetic standards and behaviors aimed at the achievement of beauty. Understanding the guidelines about how "to be beautiful", contained in Dicas de beleza da Barbie and aimed at girls, demands that we follow the path taken by the doll in the history of toys and children's fashion, specifically in the creation, communication and dissemination of values related to esthetics - the body, clothes and consumer behaviors that go along with them BARNARD, The popularization of television and the success of movies as well as the growth of the clothing and toy markets, especially dolls, are notable phenomena at the end of the s.
In this period, it is seen that the advancement of children's fashion in clothing and dolls had leverage in consumer goods and products - creams, shampoos, lotions. Amid the changes in the culture of appearance of girls, and participating in these changes, Barbie was created by the Mattel company in In the book Barbie and Ruth , Robin Gerber provides clues that connect the Barbie doll to the social and cultural changes seen in the United States and Brazil, turning girls into the target audience of the consumer market of fashion goods and products.
According to the author, Mattel was a North American toy company that held an important place in the production and consumption of dolls. The owner, Ruth Handler, who led the company with her husband, Elliot, appears as someone who was bothered by the models of dolls offered in the market to girls in all age groups.
To her, a new type of doll that got the attention of older girls was necessary, as the baby dolls no longer attracted this public. Barbie was born of what is considered, in the reading and interpretation of the creation of the doll, a "necessity" seen by the owner to provide girls with a model and style of toy that supplanted those existing in the market.
The perception of this need is said to be the result of observing her daughter Barbara and her friends playing with dolls. She noticed that the girls were interested - among the many images of children, animals and toys - in the paper dolls cut from fashion magazines, that is, adult dolls.
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In searching for a doll that met the demands of the girls, Ruth found, traveling in Europe with the family, the Bild Lilli. This was a souvenir doll with sensual and suggestive features that was aimed at the adult male public, winning over men from the wealthier classes with its erotic stories. It is mentioned, in the ongoing narratives seeking to highlight the history of Barbie, that Handler evaluated the Bild Lilli as having the right features for the doll that she dreamed of producing and putting on the toy market for girls.
The adaptation process was long and tense. Gerber comments that, when Ruth showed the designers at Mattel what she wanted to do with Bild Lilli, giving her new clothes in order to transform her into a doll that suited the taste of girls, her proposal was refused. Nevertheless, the project continued, which raises the thought of Handler's investments and her bet on the power that the new doll could have on the consumer market of toys for girls.
According to Gerber , Jack Ryan, one of the designers for the company, took a copy of the Lilli doll to Japan so that the Japanese manufacturers would understand the Barbie doll project. The choice of a Japanese manufacturer was due to the high production costs in the United States, given the types of materials used in the production of the doll. Along with the production of the dolls, Handler developed partnerships with cosmeticists and stylists, clear evidence of her intention to make the doll instill fashion values and behaviors in girls.
That is, that they should learn and develop the taste and style of dressing, makeup, hair treatment, overall learning about how to appear beautiful and elegant from the earliest age. The idea of the doll as a toy for girls is a product of the 19 th century, clearly taking its permanent place in the society and culture of the 20 th and 21 st centuries. The distinction of toys and games based on sex, that is, what is appropriate for boys and girls, appeared in the second half of the 20 th century.
Arend asserts that, in Brazil, the early childhood educational manuals predicted that toys and games geared toward girls should act on their physical and psychological integrity. From then on, for girls, "dolls, pots and pans, clothes irons, imitation clothes washers; and, for boys, play cars, boats, trains, balls and rackets" AREND, , p. In this way, games highlighted the social roles of the sexes.
Women were destined to take care of the house and children, as shown in their games; men were to be independent, should provide a living, play sports and had a social life, as Arend , p. Docility, sweetness, serenity and resignation were considered the feminine characteristics, while the expectations of men were courage, decisiveness and competitiveness - values and practices that would also be learned in school, now understood as the place of excellence for the formal education of children and youth of both sexes.
The author is clear: toys directly influenced the education of the subjects as "masculine and feminine", consonant with the social and cultural values and behaviors that defined the concepts and the standards of masculinity and femininity. So dolls, particularly, taught and teach appropriate clothing, hair styles and the ideal makeup to girls.
Such lessons are also perpetuated by the Barbie doll, whose creator always stressed her primary purpose: to produce a doll for teenagers, and that Barbie should present a gentle face and dress in clothing that would please and teach the young girls. It should be considered that the Barbie doll was not created in a random way. With the product launched by the Mattel company, Ruth Handler intended to create a toy that reached a particular consumer public, that of teenage girls.
With the success of the doll, the Barbie line of toys grew, leading girls to consume products that taught the standard of beauty of the tall, blond and thin woman, incorporated and disseminated by the appearance of the doll.
It should be pointed out that the doll, as well as the support material in the book Barbie's Beauty Tips , constitute a pedagogic cultural fashion artifact that, in contemporary society and culture, performs a significant role in modeling the subjectivities of girls, teaching them notions about bodily care and encouraging consumer practices in them. The "doll's tips", as an editorial product, are significant from the point of view of the transmission of communication strategies with the consumer public, for making advances in the production of fashion and its consumption by girls.
As highlighted by Luca , the segmentation of the magazine market and of the public is a historical phenomenon of the production of consumer and fashion goods. It conveys and creates, through advertising, the "needs" to buy, to be the same as the advertisement-girls, to have what is shown on the pages of the magazines. In other words, being the same as fashion models and mannequins. The launching of Barbie, as a doll that broke the then-existing standard of a toy for girls by offering, in her materiality, a way of playing that was different from what permeated the relationship of girls with dolls.
That play characterized, in our understanding, a moment in which a way to control the appearances and behaviors of girls in relation to consumption appeared. She acted, thus, in the modeling of the sensibilities of girls, placing them in the fashion market by means of inculcating values and practices of consumption which moved the market forward for goods and products - clothing, creams, shampoos, etc. The interpretation appears plausible when the panorama of national and international fashion is considered.
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As Lipovetsky observed, the years and marked the change in the edifice of fashion by installing a new system, which did not mean the total break with the means of operating identified in prior periods. Maria Claudia Bonadio helps to understand how the changes were reflected in Brazil. Among Rhodia's strategies for expanding the production and consumption of clothing using synthetic threads, which it produced, and, at the same time, establishing competition with Brazilian textile using natural fibers and fine imported fabrics, was the implementation of a policy of publicizing in women's magazines, fashion editorials, reports and announcements, as well as holding fashion shows.
The lifestyle and the rebellion of North American youth portrayed in the movies contributed to the modeling of the subjectivities of girls and boys, in which being young and modern was to rebel through visual practices and behaviors that questioned ideas and concepts consisting of ways of being and dressing.
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Supported by the communications media, including television, from the second half of the s, the clothes and the behaviors manufactured meaning for the concept of youth. It was in this period that the youth took the sociological consciousness of what it is to be young and the clothing production market for this segment grew significantly in the country, defining and communicating the existence of youth and the culture of youth, which redefined the notion of beauty ZIMERMANN, Through the magazines, elegance and beauty become accessible to women - young and adult - as well as to children, boys and girls.
Advertisements for products geared toward the childhood market increased in the periodicals. Considering that, in the history and culture of fashion and appearance, the mothers became responsible for raising their sons and daughters, the topics and articles in the magazines about appropriate clothing and toys for boys and girls focus on the maternal figure as the consumer and the one responsible for family consumption.
Not by chance, magazines segmented by gender and age appeared in the country: Capricho for girls; Nova and Claudia for women; and Quatro Rodas for men. Such magazines express the on going changes produced by the society and culture of the consumption identifed by the diversification of products and of lifestyles.
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- Jordan River Anthology.
- Because Life Is for Living?
- Natural Skincare, Holistic Wellness, and Mineral Makeup.
As Burke , p. It would appear that, with the creation and launching of Barbie in the North American market in , as the object of mediated consumption in a period of substantial changes in the logic of national and international fashion, the modern and youthful model offered by her was compatible with the "youth style" or the "lifestyle of youth" directed at the girls.
This is an important marker, in any analysis, about Barbie's path, who arrived in Brazil in The plot of the story of Barbie's launching on the Brazilian scene is intriguing and suggests that it marked a significant moment in the market strategies of fashion goods and products to boost the production of dolls, clothing and beauty items. In the mids, in full swing of the national fashion market, Estrela - a national toy company - created the Susi doll. Such an agreement was very lucrative for Estrela in the years when Barbie reigned. According to Roveri , the contract with Mattel was later broken and Estrela relaunched Susi in to compete with the other dolls in the market, including Barbie.
Two models of beauty are clear in Susi and Barbie.
The first, morena , thin-waisted with wide hips, the standard of feminine beauty and esthetics recommended and propagated in the magazines as the Brazilian feminine esthetic and style and of the "Brazilian-ness" of women SANT'ANNA, The second, the North American esthetic standard of the white, blond woman whose influence over the feminine segments is historic and clear, due to the spreading of this style by North American film actresses, such as Marilyn Monroe, among others.
It seems that in the s, in Brazil, the creation of the national fashion market relied on tailors and companies as one of its operating engines to create and spread the national esthetic and style breaking from foreign influences over the Brazilians, particularly from the United States. Therefore, the appearance of Susi as a Brazilian doll constituted a nationalistic advertising and marketing strategy.
It contributed to the formation of images and representations for the children's segments, of what it was to be Brazilian, with the appreciation of the dark hair and bodily features. Simili's reflections regarding the strengthening of the national esthetic in the s corroborate this argument. And there are some universal standards of beauty across the world. Symmetry in the face and the body, plus clear skin and youthfulness are preferred traits; and heterosexual men desire women with hourglass shaped figures as well as feminine features.
These characteristics are markers of health and fertility. However, for women, looks only go so far. While heterosexual women also seek symmetry as well as height in men, they are most concerned with status and resources.