Reinventing Barbie: A new kind
NEW KINDS OF
BARBIE: In alternative dress, above, and as a
student. / Photos by Connor H. Jones
By Amanda Mears
March 26, 2009 | Bag lady Barbie, Pregnant Ken
and R.N. Joe.
Don't be surprised if you haven't seen commercials
for the twisted versions of these iconic toys
flashing across your television screen. Instead,
USU students can see these dolls, along with 161
others showcased in the basement of the Merrill-Cazier
Library, as part of the Reinventing Barbie Bash
sponsored by the women and gender studies department.
In order to celebrate National Women's History
month, USU students and Cache Valley residents
redesigned Barbie and Co. to make a statement.
"We wanted to take these iconic dolls and do
something a lot more fun," said Brenda Cooper,
USU professor and organizer of the event, and
an award ceremony Tuesday. "Our goal was to take
them and change the statement."
Storee Powell, junior majoring in print journalism,
took home second place for her re-creation of
several Barbies entitled "Good vs. Bad Role Models"
and said her biggest motivation for entering the
contest was to spread a message about positive
role models for young girls.
"I get irritated at how the press will cover
gossip and celebrities who are not reflective
of what society is," Powell said. "Often times
celebs are not good role models. For example,
all the little girls want to be Hannah Montana
and it gives them the wrong idea. They should
be striving to be something attainable."
Powell said she first became interested
in gender issues when deciding what minor she should
choose. After talking to Cooper, Powell said she decided
her passion was women and gender studies.
"I got really excited about it," Powell said. "There
are a lot of issues facing women and I wanted to be
a voice for that."
As a print journalism major, Powell said she spends
a lot of time evaluating what messages the media send.
Powell said she feels motivated to change the way women
are covered because of how often she sees stories dedicated
to people who present a negative body image to young
"People like parents and teachers who should be covered
and praised are not receiving the press time they deserve
because of much space and time is devoted to celebrities,"
The Reinventing Barbie Bash was just one outlet Powell
said she uses to spread a positive message to other
"I like the idea of reinventing a Barbie doll because
she depicts and unattainable body similar to celebrities
who have plastic surgery," Powell said. "It's just not
Powell said she hopes that by reinventing Barbie for
her 50th birthday she will get students thinking about
their bodies in a realistic way and setting attainable
"I think we need to start thinking about reality vs.
ideals," Powell said. "We need to re-evaluate our thinking
because it's hurting us. We grew up with Barbies and
I think when you look at these dolls you need to think
'Maybe this isn't right.'"