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April 8, 2007

"We Are The World"

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March 26, 2007

"Our Generation" Dolls

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Over the weekend I was at SuperTarget and wandered over to the doll section. The past few years I have done the kids ‘Santa shopping’ for my uncle’s electric company holiday party and like someone had previously mentioned it is hard to walk down the aisle and look at things critically after you have spent many afternoons picking out dolls for people you know. On this trip however I focused on the doll aisle (the one without the Barbies and Bratz dolls). There were the Cabbage Patch dolls, the Little Mommy dolls and the ones I found interesting were the “Our Generation? dolls.

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Groovy Girls are Dreamtastic!

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Groovy Girls are an interesting looking doll that my sister used to go crazy about. I thought it would be interesting to see how their online store was set up. They are the “wildly popular soft dolls with their own unique sense of funky style?. On the main page there is a lot of flash animation, big flowers, and attractive looking dolls. Everything is animated and inviting you to come and dance, chat with friends, or take photos! The possibilities seem endless, and I haven’t even entered the site.

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My Scene's Sex Appeal for Kids

I decided to delve into the world of MyScene.com, a website that a little girl that I baby-sit frequents. I’ve wandered at times where she picks up certain expressions and attitudes that neither of her parents or siblings portrays, and I’ve often figured it was her friends at school that she borrowed demeanors from. I realize after the MyScene exploration, that she has picked up some of her qualities from the dolls she does not even own, but simply visits over the internet. I’m uncomfortable with this.

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Baffled by sexist toys / glamourous kitchens

I visited Toys 'R' Us' website and found out that what we talked about in class about dolls being gender oriented is completely correct. Maybe shoppers looking for something specific wouldn't notice, but after analyzing many different types of toys, I realized it's all over the place!! On the topic of marketing, I think they really try by appealing to what is popular "now" and they rely heavily on their paragraph telling what the toys does, comes with and basically why it should appeal to the young child. I believe that is where the true marketing lies.

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FAO Schwarz

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I visited the FAO Schwarz website for this assignment. When the site first came up, I was amazed that all the items featured were advertised with pictures of white children and babies. The featured toy on the bottom of the screen said, “Create your own Madame Alexander Doll Today?. There was a white girl holding a line of dolls- all of which were white. I clicked on the link to begin creating a doll, and the description read, “You can choose from skin, eye, and hair color . . .?. Really? Can I? Because according to what I can see and what you have made very obvious (the enlarged picture from the last page), I can/should only choose the white skin color. Hmm…

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“American “I-doll?- not for Every Girl

We all got a sneak peak into the “American Girl? website (http://americangirl.com/) in class, so I am not surprise so many of us chose to write about this site. From the little I saw of other people’s impression of other websites and stores, “American Girl? is as ethnically diverse as it is going to get. As for class-if you (or your parents, assume the site aims at 3-8+ year old girls) do not have at least $42 for the simplest (“Bitty Baby?) doll, this is defiantly not the site for you. Assuming you have a computer access (whether it is at home, in the public library or in school) you can start looking for the dolls of your dreams-and dive into one of the most “American? experiences you can get in a mouse-click.
From the pink, red and other light-colored front page I dove into the “shop? link, to get to business (my computer at home is just way too slow for watching movies or playing sophisticated games online). All the girls in the front of the “shop? page where white (including the dolls) and most had light hair-blond or brown. The whole appearance is not very welcoming to Americans of non-European (or actually, non-Northern European) descent, but since the site is looking for the people with expandable income, that not seem to be a problem (in their minds’ eye). “Bitty Baby? is marketed for girls at age 3+, and offer five skin, eye and hair color combinations. I think that this is not bad in comparison with the “Barbie? or “Bratz? websites, but maybe it is just because I became too “American?.

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Dolls

My daughter has at least one of almost every type of doll in each aisle—yes, including the more typical “boy? dolls like G.I. Joe and Star Wars figures. Although, every time I attempt to diversify her collection, she opts for the doll that looks the most like her, and that is the reason she will give as well. She chooses her dolls by who they look like-- Moms have dark hair, kids are usually blonde. We’ve walked the toy aisles of Target, Wal-Mart, Toys ‘R Us, Kaybee Toys, and every other toy retailer there is in Minnesota more than likely. Her bedroom is covered in Barbie, Bratz, Polly, Joe, and Princess Padame.

To actually walk through these aisles trying to see a different feminist perspective was difficult for me because I’m used to walking through choosing birthday and Christmas gifts for Madeline or her friends.

First, walking through the Barbie aisle, which can be seen from nearly across the store by its pink glow, I wanted to see what things were placed at different eye levels. I did find that the more conservative or occasion dolls—like Special Edition or Collection dolls were placed at or above my, or the adult’s/parent’s, eye level.

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Target Toy Section

In this short essay, I will focus on the marketing of toys to children within Target. As I walked through the toy section at Target in Marshfield, WI, I couldn’t help but notice that I could pick out who was targeted, pardon the pun, for certain products based on nothing more than the color of the packaging and toys themselves.

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Toys R Us

I took an online tour of Toys “R? Us. The doll section was arranged in several categories including fashion dolls, princess dolls, and ethnic dolls. Under the top selling list, the top selling doll of the month is the “Irish Dance? doll from the Barbie Pink Label collection. The doll is depicted in the perfect Irish stereotype with long curly red hair, pale skin, and green dress.

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My Twinn... or yours?

My Twinn is an online retailer selling-- oh, did you guess it, you clever thing?-- child-replica-type dolls. The website itself is pretty girly, hearts and flowers and that shade of pinky-purple that I never know what to do with... I didn't see a single photo of a boy paired with his doll, even though there is a boy-doll option.

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Dolls from Toys "R" Us

For my doll report I decided to check out the Toys “R? Us Website. They had many different categories of dolls to choose from. I decided to focus more on the Barbie and Ken dolls. I looked at the collector’s dolls first and found that there were dolls of many different ethnicities and cultures. Most of these were Barbies. Some of these were Cinco de Mayo Barbies, Wizard of Oz Barbies, Tooth Fairy Barbies, Kwanzaa Barbies, and Hard Rock Cafe Barbies just to name a few.

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Barbie- Still the Same

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I had to write about Barbie for this assignment; my childhood ties are so strong (I know, like millions of other kids…). But Barbies took a kind of special place in my home- while I had a few, it was my brother (3 years my senior) who had the real collection. My brother would spend hours creating elaborate sets, talk shows, outfits, scenarios, you name it. It is often his Barbie obsession that people raise their eyebrows at when looking for clues of his homosexuality in our childhood past.

The issue of gender identity is a very complicated one- yet I know that my brother identified with women. Perhaps this is why he liked female Barbies so much. This would fit into the idea that children want toys to represent themselves.

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Confessions of a Toy Store Worker

Throughout high school, I worked in a privately owned toy store. The store is located in the busy tourist area of Duluth by the lake. I remember placing orders for dolls, marking them and stocking them on the shelves.

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Not Really My Scene

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I’ve been out-of-touch with the doll business for quite awhile. As a child I loved playing with Barbies and my older sisters’ porcelain dolls, though my best friend and I had always dreamed of getting American Girl dolls. Since my childhood long, long ago I knew that the new Bratz collection had been introduced, but I hadn’t ever heard of the “My Scene? dolls, so I decided to check out the website.

My Scene dolls are a Mattel brand, introduced in 2002 to compete with the Bratz collection, which was gaining much of the market share that Barbie used to own. As Bratz did, My Scene looks to move away from the “traditional? and conservative nature of Barbies, and focus on the “contemporary? and “hip? modern girl.

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Bratz and the Construction of Beauty

Throughout my childhood I was the proud owner of an array of dolls. These dolls were my primary source of entertainment and I would spend hours every day staring into their faces and using them as the basis for my fantasies. My mom recalls that I would wake up and go into the living room with an arm full of dolls and arrange them under the piano. I would sit under the piano without saying a word and once in a while I would move a doll from one spot to another. I remember this game well, I was pretending I was a homeless single mother with three or four children and I had to work to help my family survive. I have talked to other girls who have recounted similar fantasy games involving dolls and single motherhood.

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"The Only Girls With A Passion For Fashion!" Bratzlogo.jpg

* The dolls are marketed online at their fully interactive website www.bratz.com. The dolls aren’t sold directly from the site, they are, instead hyped up with their pictures plastered all over the place with links to how one can buy on from a retailer near by. These dolls are definitely marketed to the young ‘valley girl’ type. These dolls are only interesting in fashion, pampering puppies, and now, a Bratz fantasyland with their new breed of Pixie dolls. These dolls are not sold with a price tag, no, that is too old school, these dolls are sold with a lifestyle with a price tag on it, it’s just that that price is not relevant.

* A huge majority of the Bratz dolls are female; there are three male dolls that I came across: One older father figure and two boyfriend material dolls, all three of the males dolls are White. There are four main dolls. Two White, One Black American, One Asian, and one that is definitely not White, but she is hard to categorize specifically, I would say she is Middle Eastern or Persian. All of the dolls are wealthy or at least well-off enough to afford their pretty outfits and expensive accessories. I assume all of the dolls are “hetero-normative,? for every girl there is a boy, but the coupling is not so visible, it is just understood that the dolls are heterosexual; it is a hidden underlying rule. I assume that the Bratz company doesn’t do much with sexuality and relationships because the parents of the companies’ target audience would not be happy with their 6 year old daughters thinking about boyfriends just yet, much less a same sex relationship.

* Bratz has different dolls to appeal to different age groups.
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oliver monster for a less gender stereotyped youth

Browsing the FAO Schwarz website, I found a section called “make my own monster.? It has a lot of green and blue in the design so it looks like it’s geared towards boys, and there is even a little boy advertising it. But on the bottom, there are monsters that have been made by other little children that can be purchased. They don’t look as gender specific. There is a black and yellow one and a yellow and pink one and a blue one. I was drawn to the pink one because of the color association with girls. It was named Oliver Monster and when I clicked on the picture, I was offered more information about the monster. It was designed by a four year old boy named Niko, and there was a quote from him, and I was taken back by this quotation.

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All Kids are the Same

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According to the official Cabbage Patch Kids website: http://www.cabbagepatchkids.com/, Cabbage Patch Kids were invented in 1976 by a young man named Xavier Roberts. Legend has it he was walking through a magical cabbage patch when he saw bunnybees sprinkling the cabbage. Out popped “all sorts of different babies and kids each with their own special look.? He then started the Babyland General Hospital where people could “adopt? a little baby complete with their own adoption papers. In 1983, the Coleco Toy Company began mass producing the dolls and received their new title the “Cabbage patch Kid.?
I can remember growing up and adopting around 10 of these dolls myself, they were my favorite. I had white dolls and Hispanic dolls but never really put much thought into the difference between them.

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Dolls

When I was little Polly Pocket really fit in your pocket. She was a very small doll that lived inside a makeup compact type thing. This made it easy to bring her everywhere but there was also a limited amount of things you could do with her. I think it is probably best that they have made her bigger because she was easily lost and not good for very young children. I visited Target as well as the Polly Pocket website to check out the new Polly.

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A visit to target.com

For this blog post I decided to check out target.com to see what the dolls looked like and how they were sold on there. Once on the website they have a toy tab that you go to. On this tab many toys come up and there’s a doll link that you click on to see all the dolls the store sells. The first thing I noticed is that the most popular dolls were on top and that not until the middle of the page did the ethnic doll link show up. There was a black doll on the front page of the doll section though, which kind of made up for it. It was just kind of interesting to see that they didn’t make it at the top with all the “normal white? dolls like Barbie.

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My Twinn: The Just-Like-Me Doll

My Twinn: The-Just-Like-Me Doll is a business aimed at young girls to promote individuality, uniqueness, and reinforcing stereotypes of girls to play the role as “girl? and apply the “girl-like? characteristics to themselves and their dolls. By simply looking at the pictures below, we see how girls are persuaded to dress like princesses, bake imaginary food to satisfy the domesticated housewife role, and play with their dolls that represent them to create fantasies about growing up, always trying to maintain their physical beauty with make-up and hair products, meeting the perfect boy, and making a family.

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Unique Toy Stores Still Lack Individuality

For this assignment I chose to look at FAO Schwarz’s website since I had gone there as a kid and had been fascinated by all their unique toys. The first thing that caught my eyes on the homepage was a pretty little blonde face complete with rosy cheeks and a ribbon in her hair. When I clicked on her, I was introduced to Wendy by Madame Alexander, all ready for Easter in her pink and green flowered dress with her pink puppy Penelope.

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To me, Wendy looked boring, or maybe just bored, with her expressionless face and passive stance. Wendy’s only movement was her arms stretched out in front of her, seemingly waiting for someone else to support her. The description didn’t add much to Wendy, unlike the similar American Girl dolls, and only described her attire, which points to the priorities of the doll maker: dress and appearance over thoughts and individuality.

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March 25, 2007

“Please wait… it takes time to look this good!?

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Available at Target, Toys’R’Us, eToys, Amazon.com, K-mart, JC Penny, WalMart, KB Toys, Macy’s, and BestBuy.com, Bratz are sweeping the nation as the elementary school girl’s new favorite toy and role model.

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Create your own doll!...mhmm

FAO Schwarz is one of the oldest leading specialty toy retailers in the world. They “seek out smaller and more specialized vendors, who provide the creativity that supports a vibrant toy market.? I am intrigued by this toy store and seeked out to find out how they categorized and gendered their own dolls. On their website, Fao.com, I found a brand which allows you to create your own doll. I decided to check this out!

The first step was to choose your doll's skin color. The choices are light, medium, and dark. I find it a little ridiculous that these are the only choices and their choice of words for a description are simply shade of a color.

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target.com Toy Representation

As a part of this assignment I decided to look through the toy section of target.com. I found it very interesting and helpful how the website allows you to sort and look through toys by age. They range from baby, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12, and 13-15. To make the search easier, considering there were thousands of toys to look through, I focused on girls toys between the ages of 2-3, because I have my cousins little girls birthdays coming up soon. Immediately after clicking on ages 2-3 two columns come up that is supposedly supposed to help with the search, but it is very stereotypical. The column states you can “shop by interest,? and they proceed to give a list of broad topic toys for girls and boys. For girls you should buy dolls, puppets, horses, princess + fantasy kingdom, dress-up + little helpers, and creative activities. For boys you should by dinosaurs, pirates, cars + trucks, trains, knights + castles, and construction + tools. It shows that target, a large corporation, follows the gender roles closely. From childhood I remember going shopping for toys and the girls and boys toys would be split up in isles and the girls isles would be very pink and the boys be very blue. This puts images in childs minds of what they are supposed to like and play with to be considered a social “norm.? Even after scrolling further down, most of the links to click on are split by weather or not it is for a boy or girl. Then I proceeded to look at the prices of toys. I clicked on a link that stated top seller toys for girls, Out of 37 toys listed 11 were over 50 dollars and 25 were over 20 dollars. The website portrays a lot towards middle class families and do not offer many options for toys under ten dollars that would appeal to young girls, I only found 2 items out of 37 on the top seller list for under ten dollars. I found it very disappointing after looking through target.com in how it follows so many stereotypes and conforms to the gender roles. You can see, some what, how children get the ideas of what girls and boys are supposed to be like and play with, and those who do not conform are considered “weird to them.?

target.com Toy Representation

As a part of this assignment I decided to look through the toy section of target.com. I found it very interesting and helpful how the website allows you to sort and look through toys by age. They range from baby, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12, and 13-15. To make the search easier, considering there were thousands of toys to look through, I focused on girls toys between the ages of 2-3, because I have my cousins little girls birthdays coming up soon. Immediately after clicking on ages 2-3 two columns come up that is supposedly supposed to help with the search, but it is very stereotypical. The column states you can “shop by interest,? and they proceed to give a list of broad topic toys for girls and boys. For girls you should buy dolls, puppets, horses, princess + fantasy kingdom, dress-up + little helpers, and creative activities. For boys you should by dinosaurs, pirates, cars + trucks, trains, knights + castles, and construction + tools. It shows that target, a large corporation, follows the gender roles closely. From childhood I remember going shopping for toys and the girls and boys toys would be split up in isles and the girls isles would be very pink and the boys be very blue. This puts images in childs minds of what they are supposed to like and play with to be considered a social “norm.? Even after scrolling further down, most of the links to click on are split by weather or not it is for a boy or girl. Then I proceeded to look at the prices of toys. I clicked on a link that stated top seller toys for girls, Out of 37 toys listed 11 were over 50 dollars and 25 were over 20 dollars. The website portrays a lot towards middle class families and do not offer many options for toys under ten dollars that would appeal to young girls, I only found 2 items out of 37 on the top seller list for under ten dollars. I found it very disappointing after looking through target.com in how it follows so many stereotypes and conforms to the gender roles. You can see, some what, how children get the ideas of what girls and boys are supposed to be like and play with, and those who do not conform are considered “weird to them.?

target.com Toy Representation

As a part of this assignment I decided to look through the toy section of target.com. I found it very interesting and helpful how the website allows you to sort and look through toys by age. They range from baby, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-12, and 13-15. To make the search easier, considering there were thousands of toys to look through, I focused on girls toys between the ages of 2-3, because I have my cousins little girls birthdays coming up soon. Immediately after clicking on ages 2-3 two columns come up that is supposedly supposed to help with the search, but it is very stereotypical. The column states you can “shop by interest,? and they proceed to give a list of broad topic toys for girls and boys. For girls you should buy dolls, puppets, horses, princess + fantasy kingdom, dress-up + little helpers, and creative activities. For boys you should by dinosaurs, pirates, cars + trucks, trains, knights + castles, and construction + tools. It shows that target, a large corporation, follows the gender roles closely. From childhood I remember going shopping for toys and the girls and boys toys would be split up in isles and the girls isles would be very pink and the boys be very blue. This puts images in childs minds of what they are supposed to like and play with to be considered a social “norm.? Even after scrolling further down, most of the links to click on are split by weather or not it is for a boy or girl. Then I proceeded to look at the prices of toys. I clicked on a link that stated top seller toys for girls, Out of 37 toys listed 11 were over 50 dollars and 25 were over 20 dollars. The website portrays a lot towards middle class families and do not offer many options for toys under ten dollars that would appeal to young girls, I only found 2 items out of 37 on the top seller list for under ten dollars. I found it very disappointing after looking through target.com in how it follows so many stereotypes and conforms to the gender roles. You can see, some what, how children get the ideas of what girls and boys are supposed to be like and play with, and those who do not conform are considered “weird to them.?

G.I. Joe- A Real American Hero

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As much as I enjoyed Polly Pockets and other dolls when I was younger, I decided to look at G.I. Joes for my doll report. Before going onto the G.I. Joe website, I checked out Polly Pocket, Bratz, and Barbie websites and the difference between the websites were striking. For example, the Polly Pocket website is purple and pink with flowers and “Pol-la-la-Polly? music. It is equipped with games such as “Jewel Hunt? and “Groovy Lagoon? and “Fab-tastic Garden?. The G.I. Joe website is mostly black and green with pictures of tanks and a heading that says “You decide how Sigma 6 takes out Cobra!? The games on the website have nothing to do with jewels or gardens; they are “Viper Reef? and “The Venom Pit?, much tougher than the games in Pollyland.

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KB Toys

I chose to browse through the KB toys website to see how they organized their site and what they were trying to sell. At first, it seems as if the site is set up based on the child's age and brand. When you clicked on the 'toys & games' tab, the site changed a little bit. When you followed the site to the dolls and stuffed toys link, the first set of dolls that pop up are not very representative. There was only one doll of color represented in the first 15 and all dolls were female with the exception of two stuffed animals and some accessories. One could narrow their search into 'baby dolls,' 'fashion dolls,' or 'stuffed toys.' When you look at the fashion dolls, there are hardly any dolls of color and they are all female. Not many of these dolls looked very life-like at all. They were very geometrical or unattainably curvy/thin. The best part of the 'fashion dolls' search was the sub category on the side bar. You can narrow your search by ethnicity! You can choose only caucasian dolls or only ethnic dolls. What confuses me is why all dolls other than white dolls are under one umbrella term and made into 'those other dolls.' What is even worse is that when you search for only 'ethnic' dolls, white dolls are included in the search too! Even bob the builder (a very white doll) comes up! Even more interestingly, the ethnic dolls have 14 pages of dolls where the caucasian dolls have only 7 pages. I move to say that the ethnic dolls didn't even change the search criteria. That they just included every doll, even the white dolls. Moving past the dolls, when you are at the main Toys & Games page, you can click on Step 2 toys: “Toys That Inspire Their Imaginations.? The Step 2 page was very disturbing. All you can see on the first page are lifestyle dream kitchens or custom kitchens, 101 piece food set or kitchen utensils. In the pictures, you either see no children playing with the toys, or you see a little girl standing nearby. The toys that they are trying to sell are directed towards future housewives and the ‘cars’ towards little boys. The gendering of these toys is sickening. As well as the ethnic dolls’ othering by the website.

Uncomfortable looking doll makes nation go "aww"

When I was a kid, one of my friends had a Barbie head that we were supposed to decorate in order to beautify. Beauty was a flexible term for what that Barbie head wound up looking like by the end of the makeover. We had the assumption that anything applied to her face was pretty; so beauty, I guess, was making Barbie look like she did a face-first dive into a mound of crap. On another makeover, we ended up cutting her hair to the point of no return, resulting in “never-gonna-get-a-date butch Barbie.?

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Playmobil

I had to write about Playmobil because I feel like my childhood was shaped by these little plastic toys (that might be an exaggeration). In all seriousness; they were my favorite toys. My sister had a doll house that she filled with these little people and their accessories. She had the Victorian collection, I had the Native American set and my brother had a full colonial army (perfect to combat my Native Americans). My sister and I use to set up elaborate scenarios and then we would act them out. Some of our favorites were having the army kill all the Native American’s or vice versa, or the Victorian people hiding the Native American’s and protecting them from the vicious army. However, my favorite game was when we made the colonial soldiers kill the Buffalos and then the Native American’s would have to move off the land (kind of morbid). Needless to say, it was fun, and I realize now how much a child acts out American mores.

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March 24, 2007

The so called American Girl Doll

For this assignment, I decided to focus my analysis on the American Girl doll website. The homepage of the website are divided into many sub categories. Among the many categories is shopping and needless to say, it is the category that has been placed on top of the rest. The category link itself is placed on top of the page so that it is at perfect eye level. Once click on the shop link, you than will be directed to the main shopping page in which there are many other sub categories such as: Dolls, bookstore, clothing furniture, accessory, bath & body care, and party kits. Similar to the shopping link, the doll link is also the first link that is placed in front of the rest.

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Target and Dora

Earlier this week I decided to go shopping for some toys. The idea was to pick up a toy for my 2 year old nephew, but instead I decided to look through the "million" aisles of girls dolls.
The first aisle that I came across was an entire lane of doll houses and all the fixings that go into a house. Including ironing boards, dishes and washers and dryers. I never used to think this was a big deal when I was little or even shopping for toys for my neice. I've actually bought her a doll that came with an iron and ironing board because I thought it was cute. The next 2 aisles or so were all dedicated to Barbi. This used to be my favorite aisle when I was little. All of the dolls were stocked along one side and the toys that go along with her are on the other.

However, what I paid attention to the most was the amount of Dora the Explorer toys that they had stocked. I have become familiar with Dora through my 3 year old neice who has become obsessed with her. Dora is a younger girl that goes on adventures and solves problems for friends. For example, in one episode she has to help her friend find his stuffed animals. All of the Dora toys are stocked from the floor to the top of the shelf. I noticed that the less expensive toys were on the shelves lowest to the floor and the more expensive items are near the top, primarily at eye level. What surprised me most about all of the Dora merchandise was the fact the little girls love her and she's not white. Shes spanish. She even teaches kids to speak spanish. I liked that there was a lot of merchandise for Dora and I like that little girls do look up to her. I asked my brother if my neice has ever asked why Dora is a different color and all he said is that she looks "pretty cuz she's darker". I interpreted this is a good sign that she would not pick a doll because of its color or not.
In a little section next to the Dora dolls is Doras cousin, Diego with his show Diego's Animal Rescue. He is older than Dora and he is more for boys. He is the same color of light brown like Dora and he also helps kids learn right and wrong and also a little spanish.

I'm a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie World

Growing up, I was obsessed with Barbies. If at any time in my childhood, you were to walk downstairs to my sister’s and my playroom, it was usually a mess with Barbie houses, Barbie clothes, and Barbie cars. I had the Barbie workout video, Barbie Fashion Designer on CD-ROM, and even a Barbie jeep. For this reason, I decided to take a tour of Barbie.com.


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March 23, 2007

Amazon Designed for GWSS Critique

I’m almost convinced that amazon.com structured their toy section for the sole purpose of this assignment. They are just asking for someone to come along and do a feminist analysis! First of all, the main category page had a link for “Toys for Girls? and “Toys for Boys.? Granted, they must categorize the toys to make shopping more efficient, but by placing them under these labels, they assume that all girls like dolls and pink things, while all boys like burly action figures and video games

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Trip Through Target

I recently took a tour through the toy section of the Super Target in my hometown of Chaska, Minnesota. Instead of analyzing specific dolls, I decided to analyze the marketing and the packaging of the dolls. I looked at the cuddly, baby dolls, Barbies, Bratz, Polly Pockets, and Disney dolls. Many packages, showed pictures of “real? kids playing with the dolls or holding them, however; not one of dolls featured a boy in their marketing. They would certainly have boy dolls, but never a picture of a boy with the boy doll. This got me thinking about advertising on television, and again, in the commercials, all dolls are pictured with girls. This definitely proves that gender roles are incorporated into marketing and advertisement. Not only are the dolls marketed towards girls, they are even segregated from the “boy? toys within the store, which feature action figures, cars and other transportation vehicles, and weapons of some sort. I also looked at the colors of the packaging and mostly found girly colors: every shade of pink and purple. Here and there would be greens and oranges, but only fluorescent shades, never any manly, deep colors like hunter green or navy.

I also analyzed the clearance and sale racks of dolls. In the front of each aisle were usually featured toys on sale; today there were Polly Pockets on the bottom shelves and soft baby dolls on the top. The Polly Pockets were purposely placed on the bottom shelves, at eye level for younger kids. These types of dolls attract younger girls because they look grown up and have lots of clothes, hair accessories, purses, and even a car to drive Polly around in (just like an adult). The nice, baby dolls were on the top shelves, perfect for adults to view. Adults want their kids to play with nice toys and these dolls would be the first bought. However, when I went around the back aisle, I noticed the clearance racks were filled with Sasha Bratz dolls, the African American doll, and other ethnic dolls. Perhaps these dolls were on sale because they aren’t getting sold because the majority of Chaska is Caucasian and typically white dolls are picked because there is a resemblance in race of the customer. Or, maybe people feel the same way as those in the videos we watched in class, and that black dolls are the bad dolls and the inventory proves it. It’s really sad to think that people (especially little kids) believe that certain races are better over others but also, that these dolls are hidden in the back of the store in the corner. I am glad to see a greater variety of races in dolls sold, but I only wish that the selling of each type of doll will equalize soon.

March 22, 2007

Friends 2B Made... Yikes.

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http://www.friends2bmade.com

Have you ever walked into a store and felt like you wanted to vomit immediately because you were so inundated with a store marketing “girliness?? If you want to experience this, go to ‘Friends 2B Made,’ a store next to ‘Build-a-Bear’ in the Mall of America. You can see the pink glow as soon as you round the corner. This glow is the first thing you notice as you approach and it keeps you in a state of shock for a little while after you enter, but don’t worry they offset the pink with some bright purple and a whole lot of sparkle. Not only are the colors all pumped up, but the music pumping the speakers is a combination of pop and techno (Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson among the “hip? tunes played).

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Precious Moments Online Doll Superstore

I recently visited the online site of one of the most popular collection of dolls of all time; Precious Moments. Precious Moments can be collected by women of all ages. The larger dolls on the website were dedicated to younger girls. The pictures of the dolls at the top of this sub-site were of blonde-haired "Texan Cowgirls" As I scroll down the page, there are no longer pictures available, only links to some additional white dolls and a few ethnic ones. With the purchase of a doll, you can get an additional doll for free. The company will send a doll of what they call "overstock". Under the link to see the overstock items, there are multiple pictures of Asian, African American, and Latina dolls, oh and there are a few American dolls. The smaller ceramic-like dolls that are directed toward older women are also available on a different sub-site. These pictures show dolls of all ethnicities doing different jobs or chores. The jobs include: nurse, teacher, student, secretary, banker, waitress, a little girl washing dishes, ironing, folding laundry, and playing with a cat.
Growing up, I bought my mom countless numbers of precious moments because she was an avid collector. I really didn't think too much about it when I bought them, but now I see that the dolls are marketed in the wrong way. I thought by now that these invisible barriers separating men and women of different races would begin to diminish by now, but I guess I was wrong. While speaking to my girlfriend, I found out that she had the Precious Moments dolls as a kid. She said she always would pick out the ones that looked like her (white, blonde straight hair). What the dolls were wearing also played a large factor when choosing dolls. If the doll had a pretty dress on, then she would have to buy it. Little girls today are looking for someone to idolize. Manufacturers realize this and supply that demand with a doll that looks similar to most girls today.

Bratz

ws bratz.jpg

I took a tour of the Bratz website and found myself feeling a little disturbed as I left the site. I was never exposed to Bratz as a child because they weren’t around yet, but my 10 year-old sister has many Bratz so I am very familiar with them.

I started my tour at the homepage. The dolls that they are advertising on the main page are the vast majority the dolls with white skin and blonde, brunett, or red hair.

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March 21, 2007

Polly Pocket

I decided to research “Polly Pocket? because I used to play with them when I was little and I loved them. Things are quite different from when I was younger which is really sad. Since I played with them, “Polly Pocket? is no longer a small, pocket toy by an actual doll. Society is always trying to make things bigger and better and toys are no exception.

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March 20, 2007

Gendering of Toys Assignment

Post to Category: 7. Doll Reports (4 points) by noon on Monday 3/26

Assignment: Visit a toystore (or online retailer) to analyze dolls and/or gendering of toys like these:

scarytoy.jpg

Take a “tour? of a doll retailer like Toys R Us, KB Toys, Amazon or FAO Schwarz . You can focus on Barbie, Bratz, Polly Pocket, My Scene, American Girl, or any doll (toy or “action figure? like GI Joe or Superman). Pay attention to how the dolls are gendered (and perform gender identity), and are raced, classed, organized (shelved or put into categories), constructed, dressed, marketed, etc.

In a 300 - 500 word post discuss your findings. Consider the following prompts to help guide your response:

* How are dolls sold (think space, place, marketing ploys)?
* How does gender, race, class and sexualities get mapped onto dolls (and/or toys)?
* What influence, if any, do you see dolls (toys) having on the gendering and socialization processes?
* What is your response to your findings? Did you think of your own days of playing with toys? Are you suprised, shocked, angered or not affected by what you've encoutered?
* Was it easy to find a doll/toy that looks like you, represents some of the salient pieces of your identity (race, ethnicity, skin color, hair texture, cultural groups, etc.)?

Use key terms, the films and the readings (assigned or optional) to guide your theorizing. Post a reflection write-up (and, if you are so inclined, a creative presentation of your findings for 5 extra credit points (Think photography, drawing, diorama, reconstructed doll...).

BONUS Extra Credit Assignment: Do you have a "doll narrative"? - a story about you and your dolls (like those that appear in Barbie Nation>? Share your story (in addition to the theoretical post) for 2 extra credit points). The film is available for viewing in the Walter LRC Library if you want to watch the tape.

Due to many requests, EXTRA CREDIT CAN BE COMPLETED ANY TIME BEFORE THE END OF THE TERM (the final date to turn in extra credit assignments, the Dec date specified in the syllabus).

NOTE: The reading "Ethinically Correct Dolls: Multicultural Barbies and the Merchandizing of Difference" is from this text:
ecd1