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!