Plastic fantastic?

Written by on December 6, 2013 in Beauty, Body & Mind - Comments Off on Plastic fantastic?

LGSheilaCOver the years, Barbie has become a household name. Recently, Barbie has been used to demonstrate common misconceptions of what beauty is. We, as communities or nations, often worry how western society’s media can negatively affect teenagers. Teenage magazines idolise lean guys in skinny jeans and slim women in tiny shorts. However, if we look at this doll, you can see that we are already inflicting western society’s ideas of beauty at an early age.

Personally, I’m not attacking Barbie, I don’t find lad’s mags offensive and I really quite like Lily Allen’s take on this issue in Hard Out Here, however, I think that the way this classic child’s doll is being used in recent media is great.

Artist, Nickolay Lamm, used measurements of an average 19-year-old woman to create a 3-D model, which he photographed next to a standard Barbie doll. Lamm then photoshopped the 3-D model to make it look like a Barbie doll.

“If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well,” Lamm said. “Furthermore, a realistically proportioned Barbie actually looks pretty good.”

imagesThe edited doll emphasises the distorted view of beauty that Barbie represents. Similarly, that’s what photographer Sheila Pree Bright conveyed in her 2003 series “Plastic Bodies,” which is currently part of the traveling art show “Posing Beauty in African American Culture.” Pree Bright’s work focuses mostly on ethnic women, exploring their complex relationships to white beauty standards by combining images of real women’s bodies and faces with those of dolls.

Pree Bright shared the idea behind the series: “…concepts of the “perfect female body” are clearly exemplified through commercialism, portraying “image as everything” and introducing trends that many spend hundreds of dollars to imitate. It is more common than ever that women are enlarging breasts with silicone, making short hair longer with synthetic hair weaves, covering natural nails with acrylic fill-ins, or perhaps replacing natural eyes with contacts.”

Even on magazine covers, graphic artists are airbrushing and manipulating photographs in software programs, making the image of a small waist and clear skin flawless. As a result, the female body becomes a replica of a doll, and the essence of natural beauty in popular American culture is replaced by fantasy.”

Bright also drew from her personal experiences being a black woman searching for an identity, she revealed that her upbringing in a military family exposed her to a variety of different cultures, prompting her to constantly question where she fit in.

“This body of work addresses the loss of personal identity many women experience, specifically women of color,”

Therefore, it is great to see how all shapes and colours and natural looks are being celebrated. Artists and the media are continuing to criticise the idea that beauty can only come in one form. Sheila Pree Bright and Nickolay Lamm – allmygoodness commends you!

About the Author

Christina Latham

Christina is one of our original writers who helped with the launch of allmygoodness. She has a love for finding vintage treasures and organic products in unexpected, undiscovered places. She has previously worked as a journalist for CD News at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and Bader TV News in Berlin. She also writes freelance articles for Fitzrovia News and BetaTwentyOne. Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaLatha