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.

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