Monday, December 17, 2007

Bratz: The Life

Game Overview
Bratz: The Life is a game centered on education and responsibility. Aimed to girls of a young age, this game provides a somewhat realistic portrayal of life as a teenager. Set in a free-roam setting, this game is comprised of mainly 3 “maps” where most game-play would occur. In school, a character would take part in 4 different classes, each possibly containing a pop-quiz. Difficulty settings would revolve around the player’s age, as well as the amount of study time that character had devoted the day before, where the second “map” takes place (afterschool). Along with extracurricular activities and possibly an outside job, characters juggle the reality of life in conjunction with school work which mainly reflects the responsibility and aspiration aspect of the game. There will also be some fun activities in the game, like shopping; but for items that are needed. To teach about the dangers and needless time-spending on the act of consumption, players would be exposed to budget situations and unforeseeable circumstances that would make characters hold on to their wallets/purses a little more tightly. In essence this game is real-life, and in reality a girl might actually refuse to play this game. But in a society where learning games are already present, this game concept heads no where off the road to a child’s guide to interactive learning. Enclosed is the cover for Bratz: The Life, marketed towards youngsters everywhere, eager to get a jumpstart on life.
Here is a screenshot of Bratz: The Life for sale

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gia - Life in a Fairytale

Gia, a fictionalized biography of Gia Carangi who was the first supermodel, is narrated by Gia’s character in the form of a fairytale. Beginning with “Once upon a time…” Gia’s life is lived and ends like a fairytale, just like Gia’s mom describes. However it is easy to see this is not the case at all, where getting aids and being a drug abuser is hardly what a fairytale contains. But Gia’s story can be seen like a true fairytale in a land of patriarchal standards and gendered constructs of beauty and success. Ultimately, girls’ and women’s understanding of beauty begins and ends with being thin; a message received by all.

Being thin gives women a false sense of freedom and power. Chernik admits “I felt powerful as an anorexic. Controlling my body yielded an illusion of control over my life” (131). This illusion of power transports every woman to her own little world, exactly what society had intended. Because of this, society is what keeps this little world in motion, more specifically society’s praise. As Chernik is suffering/dying from anorexia, she is given much praise by others for being thin, which they describe as “healthy and a winner” (132). This clearly leads to a feeling of success for a woman being able to control her body. This trivial pursuit in a society where it is nearly impossible to have the figure of a model is what is centralized in women’s minds, therefore resulting in a world solely created for a woman.

Thinness is about cutting a girl down to size. As Kilbourne states, “it [thinness] is only a symbol, albeit a very powerful and destructive one, of tremendous fear of female power” (262). By becoming thin, a woman is actually taking up less space in this world, literally. Figuratively, it is about a woman’s actions; what they say and do. This pertains perfectly to a model, as described in “Gia”. When first meeting with Wilamina, Gia’s agent, Gia is told “talking is not really required or even encouraged.” A model’s success is based on how well she can be sculpted in the image of another (most likely a man) where her voice means nothing. This message is transcended down to other women on what it means to be successful as a woman.

Thinness is central to the definition of beauty for a woman. Ads are mainly responsible for this false truth. Society and ads have permeated the minds of women to the extent that women rather lose 15 pounds than any other life goal. Gia maintained this image, but at what cost? - Heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. Ads proclaim that the first thing a man notices in a woman is not her personality, but her body (Kilbourne 260).

The only fairytale that could exist in our society is one defined by the patriarchal standards and gendered constructs of beauty and success. These messages of false beauty and success are disseminated to young girls and women all over. Gia’s life may have been a fairytale in her eyes, but the only true fairytale is perceived through society’s eyes. She was thin and did everything to maintain that, she spoke through her eyes into a camera using her body as her voice, and she made the cover of numerous magazines; a fairytale indeed.

Works Cited

Chernik, Abra Fortune. "The Body Politic". 1995. 130-134

Kilbourne, Jean. "The More You Subtract, The More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size". Dines, Gail and Jean M. Humez, eds. Gender, Race, and Class in Media. United States: Sage Publications, 2003. 258-267.

Picture from :

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Who I Am Is Not What They Say - "Ideal" vs "Self"

Depictions of an ideal self paired up with competitive consumption is a vicious tag team of hegemonic beliefs that permeate the society in which we live.

People are all different sizes, shapes, colors and have different interests, perceptions, senses and tastes; yet advertisements and magazines still generalize and impose an ideal image of a male or female across the world. Regarding young girls, Higgenbotham states that "the creators of teens magazines claim to reflect the reality of girls' lives...that filling these girls' minds with fluff is patronizing, cowardly and just plain lazy" (96). Gender stereotypes are promoted through these magazines because they assign roles, features, mannerisms, etc., that define the ideal self of a male or female. Without these stereotypes, an ideal self would not be complete.

Analogous to the ideal image imposed by media is consumption. "Competitive Consumption" is, as defined by Schor, "the idea that spending is in large part driven by a comparative or competitive process in which individuals try to keep up with the norms of the social group" (185). Ads create these reference groups that Schor describes which drive the individuals to consume all for the sake of fitting in to that ideal image that was manifested.

This collage represents my own self image based on how I live my life, against the perception spread by advertisements of the ideal male.

Work Cited
Higginbotham, Anastasia. "Teen Mags: How to Get a Guy, Drop 20 Pounds, and Lose Your Self-Esteem". 1996. 93-96.
Schor, Juliet. "The New Politics of Consumtion: Why Americans Want So Much More Than They Need." Dines, Gail and Jean M. Humez, eds. Gender, Race, and Class in Media. United States: Sage Publications, 2003. 183-195.
Images From:

Advertisers' Perception of Self

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Blog Post #1: Online Toy Shopping Field Work

Lia is a 10 year old girl from Pt. Pleasant, NJ, and like many other girls in this society loves to play with toys. She has a preference for some certain types and dislikes others for her own reasons. While toy shopping for a girl at Lia’s age, however, many similarities between these toys became apparent. Although different genre of toys were present (hula hoops as opposed to dolls) there seemed to be an inherent trend in all of them and this is very apparent when directly comparing those toys to those in the boys’ aisle. This poses the question of whether Lia’s likes or dislikes contain any differences or self recognition between certain toys. For that reason, toys targeted at young girls endorse normative gender roles that define their place in society.

Some toys convey the types of responsibilities to which a female should adhere. A perfect example would be the easy bake oven, a very popular product. It is such a popular gift because girls want to act just like their mothers do. It relays the message that a girl can get a head start on what mommy does everyday. It tells girls that in their future these are their responsibilities whereas boys construct buildings, perform science experiments and buy properties, like in monopoly; all superior trades. Inferiority becomes apparent and “the inferior place assumes the familiarity-and even desirability-of home” (Henley and Freeman 84). Hasbro’s talking vacuum product gives life to an inanimate labor object linking the relationship between companionship and house labor.

Girls’ toys also express the message of how females are supposed to behave in society. The use of colors applies to this very well. Looking up toys for girls, almost all displayed them in pink, purple, or yellow and this ranged from dollhouses to activity toys for girls like skip-its or hula hoops. Even when gender-neutral toys were found there were still certain versions of the toys that were made in pink, exclusively for girls. These colors denote a sense of frailness and softness as opposed to the strong connotation of blue which are assigned to boys. This consequently lays the groundwork for a girl’s introduction to this patriarchal society we live in, where images of feminine vulnerability and the “naturalness of female caring, cooperation, and subordination” (Johnson 94) exist.

Some toys suggest to girls how they’re supposed to look based on society’s definition of feminine. Looking for girls’ toys in the age range of 8 to 11 I found many dolls loaded with make-up and even more-so just life-sized heads made specifically for make-up application. Along with make-up are clothes where companies create specific business units solely focusing in on dolls’ clothing. Furthermore this leads into the realm of sex. Dolls (especially Barbie) feature too little clothing, revealing too much skin and even posing in sexually provoking positions. Sex is being introduced to these young girls and furthermore dolls are now made to portray real celebrities whether it’s the slim and busty Baywatch Barbie or country singing star Hannah Montana, complete with a cleavage-revealing top and long black leather boots. Girls infer from this the socially acceptable ways to dress and how to use their bodies in connection to their gender.

Because society is essentially defined by the media then toys thus are products of the media spreading social ideologies and facilitating hegemony. James Lull identifies that the essence of hegemony lies in “relationships between and among the major information-diffusing, socializing agencies of a society and the interacting, cumulative, socially accepted ideological orientations they create and sustain” (63). Thus this patriarchal and hegemonic society uses the marketing of toys, targeted at young girls, purposely to classify them in terms of the social normative.

Images from:

Works Cited

Henley, Nancy and Jo Freeman. “The Sexual Politics of Interpersonal Behavior.” Women: A Feminist Perspective. Edition 5. 84-93.

Johnson, Allan G. “Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us.” The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. Temple University Press, 1997. 91-99.

Lull, James. “Hegemony.” Dines, Gail and Jean M. Humez, eds. Gender, Race, and Class in Media. United States: Sage Publications, 2003. 61-65.

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