Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wrapping up my Barbie World Experience!

I have really enjoyed my online virtual world experience. It was interesting to see what occurred in Barbie World and also to read about what my classmates were experiencing. I had never participated in a virtual world before so it was interesting to actually create an avatar and participate in the world. Even though Virtual Barbie is more for young girls I could still examine identity, race, gender, and sexuality. It was very intriguing to see what the Barbies talked about and discussed with one another. I kept thinking what this virtual world was teaching young girls in our society the entire time I was in there. It’s so interesting to see that these younger girls already truly valued things like appearance, beauty, materialistic items, and clothing. The world pretty much reinforces every stereotype of what “feminine” is in our society. Young girls are learning ideologies of what is accepted in our society by just participating in a virtual world.

People who participated in other virtual worlds of course experienced different things compared to me. I know a lot of people who were in Habbo Hotel and Second Life experience many sexual things while I did not see any sexual acts or nudity. As I mentioned in my Sexuality post sexuality was still present in Barbie World but no sexual acts were performed (that I saw). In other worlds my classmates saw nudity and many people experienced occasions associated with sex. I think the topics of examine identity, race, gender, and sexuality can be viewed/observed in any situation or virtual world. The degree of these topics varied from each person’s virtual world experience.

I learned that we are all automatically socialized through our cultural mediums like the internet, TV, movies, books, etc. Even though I participated in a virtual world for younger girls they already knew how they should look/act to be beautiful and accepted into “womanhood.” The image of the “perfect, thin, beautiful body with boobs” was all the young girls could be in this virtual world. From reading other classmates posts I think it is prevalent that the idea of the “perfect male or female” was present. I know in World of War craft the female avatars were curvaceous and skinny while the male avatars were muscular and “manly.” People create avatars in these online worlds and the stereotypes and images of what is accepted and viewed in positive light in our society is reinforced. One question I am left wondering is if there are different virtual worlds that pertain to one area/country in particular? For example, there are some areas that view larger women in a very positive light and having fat on your bones is beautiful. I wonder if there was a world just for an area/culture like this if the avatars would only be larger. The hegemonic ruling class and what is viewed as “beautiful” in our society is just reinforced in these virtual worlds. I think this was obvious in Virtual Barbie and also in World of War craft and Second Life.

Overall, the topics of identity, gender, race, and sexuality were present in all of our virtual world experiences. It was very intriguing to read about others experiences and observations compared to my own. I learned a lot about how these ideologies are being created and reinforced in our society and also to analyze what messages mass mediums in our society are sending to not only myself but the people around me. I think it would be nice if we had more messages of accepting and owning your body and not trying to adjust it to be skinny and thin. I don't know who came up with the idea that skin and bones was beautiful but I personally know that is not healthy. I think we should all start to analyze how not only ourselves but our younger generations are being socialized and try to change some of the ideologies of our society.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gender Identity.

It's so weird that all these things we have been talking about in class keep popping up on television shows I have been watching. Even if you don't like Oprah, her show today exemplified and explained the idea of gender identity and how people can feel trapped in the wrong gender/body. This show really opened my eyes to the concept of gender identity.

Click the link below to read more about Paul, a high school football star who later on in life became Kimberly.



That 70's Show.

I was watching That 70's Show last night and it made me think of our class discussion yesterday. Go to 3:18 in the video in particularly! I love Donna!! Funny, but interesting!


Sunday, July 4, 2010


Well here's an update since my last blog -- I am now officially allowed back into Barbie World. I don't know if maybe there was a glitch or what? I no longer feel like a total creep which is good and now I can explore around more to truly examine and write this blog about gender.

Happy 4th of July everyone! While exploring around Barbie World I entered a room where the Barbie who lived in the room demand everyone to wear red, white, and blue to enter. She blocked the entrance to her room with three red, white, and blue garbage cans. Here is a screen shot of my 4th of July look, and of the room with the red, white, and blue cans blocking the entrance. I changed my look and hair to see if people would communicate with me differently but as I am coming to find out the topic of communication is pretty lame in Barbie World. No one really talks and if they do it’s typically about clothes and physical appearance.

Gender is defined as what is in between your ears while sex is defined as what is in between your legs. Gender has to do with the ideas of femininity and masculinity and what someone thinks of them self. Gender is also socially constructed by talking with others, and determining how others view you. Gender is overall how someone views them self in terms of being feminine or masculine. There are many biological males who feel very feminine rather than masculine and many females who feel more masculine than feminine. An example of this would be a cross-dresser or drag queen. They are biologically males but feel feminine so they dress in female clothing like dresses and skirts and wear makeup. Gender is a hard thing to decipher especially in Virtual Barbie. I cannot really talk to these avatars about how they view their own gender or what they think of gender in general and it’s hard to tell just from an avatars appearance.

In Barbie World every avatar has to be female so there is no room for cross-dressing or gender changes. While adventuring around a lot of the world is pink and very feminine music is playing in the back ground. When communicating with other avatars I tend to find that they focus a lot on appearance including clothes and accessories. In one of the avatars rooms I visited they even had a mirror contest. The Barbies would take turn sitting in front of the mirror and then the other Barbies would say things like “you’re so pretty” and stuff like that. This is just implying that all females must be feminine and that if a biological female feels more masculine then it is not allowed/accepted. Many girls who enter this world are just learning that the ultimate idea of femininity is all about pink, butterflies, clothes, makeup, and ultimately girlhood. A girl who felt more inclined to playing sports and was a “tom boy” could possibly feel ashamed of her interests because it is nonconventional to what a “normal, feminine, girl” enjoys. I think this virtual world plays into the idea of ultra femininity, and that all girls have to be totally feminine and not at all masculine to be accepted. You can’t engage in physical sports in Barbie World and never come into contact with anything pertaining to masculinity. Virtual worlds like this can be sending messages to young children on how to behave based upon their sex when maybe their gender is telling them something different. This can lead to many unhappy people in our society. An example could be a male who feels like a woman (gender) but is trapped in a male body (sex). Learning what gender is supposed to go with which sex at a young age can lead many people to feel lost and unaccepted in the world.

Here's a fun photo of an AWESOME chair I found in someone's room. (This has nothing to do with gender, I just thought it was nifty!)

How do you think gender is portrayed in our contemporary media? Do you think we are exposed to enough stories about drag queens, gays, and bisexuals? Do you think that if our popular media included more gays, transsexuals, bisexuals, and cross dressers we would find it more accepting and in return not judge people who fall into these categories as much? Do you think people should be more exposed to the idea of gender, and what it actually means?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sex & Candy or shall I say Sex & Barbie?

While adventuring through the pink virtual world of Barbie I have been observing the other avatars around me. Each avatar has a curvaceous body with fully formed boobs. The image of "sex appeal" is present subliminally. We don't see avatars performing sexual acts in Barbie World but the avatars are fairly sexualized. The body shape of every avatar is the same and cannot be adjusted like I talked about in my Identity blog. This gives every girl a curvy, sexy avatar to call their own. One thing I observed is that during the day the avatars look totally different than the avatars in Barbie World at night. The avatars during the day typically show no midriff and are fairly covered but some of the Barbies at night look pretty risky. Some avatars were showing their stomachs and others had tube tops on (as you can see in the images above). I guess you can change your outfit when you have VIP status because all the “sexier” avatars I saw had obtained VIP! Sexuality is prevalent in Barbie World but you have to search it out. When I was in Barbie World later at night I could access other avatar's rooms. I felt a little creepy but thought I should check it out. In these rooms avatars were dressed more scandalous but no talk/discussion of sex went on. Since the avatars in this virtual world are automatically so curvaceous and pretty sexualized this could be teaching girls that they must look the same way to be sexy/hot to impress other people. The VIP avatars could change their clothes and in one of the rooms the avatars would hold a “fashion show.” Two people would be the judge and then the other two would change their appearance (hair, face, clothing, etc.) and then they would walk around like a model would walk the cat walk. After this the two judges would judge who they thought was the best and that person would win the modeling contest. In these rooms the focus was on appearance and beauty not on characteristics or interests. This goes to show that the girls playing in this game have already learned that beauty/sexuality is an important thing in our society to survive. Of course I didn’t see anyone having sex or taking their clothes off like in some other virtual worlds but the idea of sexuality is apparent. These girls already know that clothing, make up, and outside appearance is SUPER important to their popularity and to win contests. In another room we had a "couch party" where everyone just sat on the couch and then no one talked (that was pretty weird & really had nothing to do with sexuality). One thing I realized when entering into these other avatars rooms is that you can sit on couches if they have them but you cannot sit/lay on their bed. So yes, the importance of sexuality/appearance can be observed in Barbie World but sexual acts cannot be performed or observed. I think sexuality would be more prevalent in the virtual world for adults rather than this world for young girls. I actually tried to sign into my Barbie World account today and I received a message saying I was banned? I don’t know why I would be banned but apparently I am? Maybe being in Barbie World at night allows for suspicion, I don't really know? I really just wanted to see the difference of Barbie World during the day compared to later at night. After seeing that message I felt like the ultimate creep when I didn’t even do anything creepy? Weird….Maybe it’s a good thing – Barbie World was way to pink for me to begin with! Haha


Do you think sexuality in our media is prevalent and impacting young children? If, so how do you think images of sexuality shapes children to view not only themselves but the people around them? Do you think that sexuality in our society has a positive or negative impact on young children including boys and girls? Do you think that images of sex/sexuality are hyper sexualizing children growing up in the 21st century?

Here are two screen shots of the modeling and couch party!

Here's the message I received making me aware that I had been banned from Barbie World!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Race/ethnicities in a world designed for young Caucasian girls?

Webster’s dictionary defines ethnicity as “ethnic quality or affiliation or a particular ethnic affiliation or group.” Race typically is grouped with the work ethnicity. Race is the color of one’s skin while ethnicity is the place where that particular person or person’s ancestors came from. An example of race would be calling me white while an example of ethnicity would be that I am German. Many people want to categorize others just based on their appearance (race) which is hard to do. I personally feel that categorizing someone based on their race rather than asking them their ethnicity is unfair.

I am going to discuss my experiences with race in Barbie World since virtually I cannot explain other avatars ethnicities based on their avatars. When entering Barbie World you can other choose very pale to very dark skin. Overall, you can either be white or black in Barbie World which excludes many other ethnicities like Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern. I think this virtual world excludes other little girls from having an avatar to identify with. Characteristics of other ethnicities are left out in this virtual world and basically the only thing you can adjust is skin color. Over all, other races are not included in this virtual world and I think this can relate to their target audience. When Barbie was first created the target audience was particularly young Caucasian girls. Over the years though Barbie has created a lot of different dolls including a black, Hispanic, and oriental Barbie. I really don’t understand why they are not incorporating these ethnicities into their virtual world. It’s not fair for little girls who are oriental or Hispanic who want to be involved in Virtual Barbie. Like I said in my Identity post with little boys not having avatars to identify with the same goes for little girls of ethnicities other than Caucasian and African America. It is nice that Barbie World allows the gamer to adjust their skin tone and that not every avatar has to be white but I think it would be nice if they included other ethnicities of avatars just like they created other ethnicities of Barbie’s over the years.

This made me think of white & black in our culture. Yes, these two races are the two races that are mostly discussed/considered in our culture. I honestly never see many television shows or read many stories including Hispanic or Middle Eastern people without negative connotations attached to them. Is the negative social stigmas attached to Hispanic and Middle Eastern people hindering them from prospering and living joyful lives here in America? Who created these negative connotations in the first place and is the reason why they are not included in this virtual world is because they are frowned upon/viewed in a negative light in our country? While adventuring around Barbie World I thought how cool it would be to be able to interact with Barbie avatars of all different ethnicites and to communicate with people all over the world. I think having more diverse ethnic avatars would allow growth and more communication to our young children living in America. People all around the world learn English and learn about our culture, but whose cultures do we really learn about? Maybe if we opened our eyes and our media portrayed positive images of minorities and different ethnicites America would not be as judgemental and harsh.

On a lighter note...here are some pictures of Barbie avatars I came in contact with while adventuring in Barbie World. You can see how the skin tones range from light to dark and how the hair type can be altered but that's about it


Do you think that many minority groups/ethnicities lack representations in media outlets like virtual worlds, television, novels, films, and on the web? If so, why do you think there is a lack of minorities represented in our popular media/pop culture and why?


Do you think that Barbie World should include other ethnic avatars such a Hispanic, and Asian or do you think the virtual is fine just the way it is only allowing the gamer to adjust skin color from pale to dark?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Identity Crisis in Barbie World?

When I first entered Barbie World I was asked to create my avatar, which was pretty fun but totally unrealistic. This brought up the idea of Identity in this particular virtual world.

First I was thinking of the idea of sex. What if there are little boys out in the world that play with Barbies and want to play in Virtual Barbie? There are not avatars that are male or for boys to identify with. I know it is “Barbie World” which is typically associated with girls in our American society but why? Little boys should be allowed to play with Barbie if they please, and they should be allowed to enjoy the virtual Barbie world just like everyone else. There should be male avatars that encompass the male sex. Barbie World is pretty much communicating that only girls are allowed in this world and that boys who play with Barbie are not wanted or allowed in the virtual world.

This brings me to my second topic of avatars and identity in virtual Barbie. The avatars available to choose from are so unrealistic to real girls body types…who would have thought?!? (sarcasm) I mean this is “Virtual Barbie” could we really expect the avatars to look realistic. I once read that if Barbie was a real person her intestines would not fit in her stomach and her back would break because of the size of her chest. It’s interesting to view Barbie in real world compared to the avatars you can choose in this virtual world. The avatars kind of look like a mix between an in-larged Polly Pocket and a strange Barbie. In Barbie World there is only one body type you can choose from which is not good for young girls joining the world. Not every girl joining Virtual Barbie is skinny and they do not allow adjusting of the body type. First, these young girls are buying Barbies which are not exemplifying a true scale of how a human body should be, and then the virtual world also creates a false image of a girl’s body. The avatars in Barbie World even have boobs and the majority of girls entering this world probably do not have boobs yet. I guess the question is: what are these images teaching young girls in our society about their identities?

Identity shapes an individual’s personality and self-esteem. Our identities make us who we are, and how we view ourselves. In my own opinion I think Barbie and Barbie World are creating images for young girl’s on how they SHOULD look based on society’s standards not how they ACTUALLY look. In our society there is such a huge emphasis on being thin rather than being healthy. Maybe if we had better images for young girls to identify with we could change the view of beauty in our society. It is not healthy for these young girls to think that they need to be skinny to fit in and be beautiful. We should have more of a focus on being healthy and in shape rather than just being skinny. Girls should learn to be comfortable in their own skin and to be proud of what their mothers gave them, rather than trying to conform to a false identity to feel pretty. These avatars can be adjusted some to provide girls with a sense of autonomy and uniqueness but the physique of the avatar can not be adjusted for girls who are larger or skinnier.

In the future Barbie World should incorporate male avatars into their world and also create a tool so young girls and others entering the virtual world can adjust/edit their avatars to look more like themselves. I think if they made these changes more girls would feel better about themselves and more comfortable knowing that their outward appearance is accepted in both the virtual and actual world.
CLASS QUESTION : In your own opinion do you think things like actual Barbie dolls and virtual worlds like Barbie World impact how younger girls view their own identity and body figures? Do you think that the images of Barbie's physique can impact how young girls create their own image of what beauty is & how they should personally look to be beautiful?
What are your own views/opinions of boys playing/having Barbies and girls playing/having GI.Joe dolls? Do you think that switching gender specific toys in children is good or bad?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Switching from Second Life to Virtual Barbie!

After trying to navigate the world of Second Life I have decided to try out Virtual Barbie and am enjoying it MUCH better! It's pretty sad that I am incapable of comprehending a virtual world for my own age, BUT Barbie World is much simpler and dumbed down....for now I need simple! I chuckled out loud when it asked for my parents email address and my age. Yes, I am categorized under ages 16+ and feel pretty damn proud about that. I mean how much cooler can this virtual world get? I get to live right by the beach, design my personal look, and bedroom! This virtual world is a lot easier to navigate and figure out. I am going to start here for my first experience with "virtual worlds" and maybe move up to Second Life eventually if I can master the skills to navigate the online worlds. I am going to be sticking with this virtual world for class from here on out! This virtual world will also be easy to examine gender, and social norms that younger children are learning through the Internet as well. I am excited to see how this virtual world coincides with the images of Barbie in our actual world. I am also interested in seeing what activities my avatar can partake in and how the communication aspect is going to occur. I signed into Barbie World for a quick second and must say that I am highly upset that "Barbie Girl" by Aqua was not playing in the background!

Obtaining membership in the virtual world, Second Life!

Hi & welcome to my NEW blog! I have chosen Second Life as my virtual world to examine Identity, Gender, Race, and Sexuality. I decided to choose Second Life because I have heard about it a lot from other people and have wanted to check it out and figured this was the perfect opportunity. I chose Second Life because it looks the most "real" if that is an okay word to describe it. I wanted to become involved in this world because I am sure other people around my own age and older are involved. I don't know if many younger children would be involved in Second Life and for my first virtual world I don't want to feel as "creepy." I was attracted to this world because the graphics of the locations and people are so vivid and look almost real. The whole "virtual world" thing is totally new to me so I am looking forward to this experience and learning more. I want to see how people communicate and interact through the virtual world and if real life stereotypes and categorizations occur also in these virtual worlds. When signing up for Second Life it allows you to pick a first name and then picks a last name for you. So my Second Life name is "Krysten Yordstorm" -- classy sounding, I know! haha. They also give you about 8 faces/bodies you can choose from so I decided to pick the blonde hair girl wearing a skirt. I figured this would be a good Avatar to pick to analyze the four major themes we are dissecting in this class. I look forward to this experience and also to reading about everyone else's experiences with these virtual worlds!