Thursday, January 28, 2016

Barbie Girl in a Barbie World

alternatively titled: Why the Barbie's image campaign and new "shapes" matter.

Mattel has long been criticized for perpetuating an unrealistic physical appearance for young girls through the example that Barbie sets. The company has been trying to fight this reputation as they attempt to keep the doll current for their customers. Most of Barbie's nearly six decades of existence though, she's existed as the bubblegum blonde hypersexualized stereotype. Barbie has also been criticized in the past for, while offering different types of careers, continually making her seem inferior to her male counterparts. She was a computer designer in a book now unavailable for purchase, who couldn't really do anything without the men. When she is trying different careers, the outfits seem to be the main focus. You can be a doctor, but it's important you still look feminine. The emphasis is usually on fashion not function.

In recent years, Mattel has been trying to change course on our thoughts of this doll. They put a boy in their ad in November and the internet went wild. On Thursday, January 28th Barbie announced the expansion of its Fashionistas® line with the addition of three new body types – tall, curvy and petite – and a total of seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hairstyles. Barbie's even on the cover of Time magazine talking about her body.

With this release, Evelyn Mazzocco, Senior Vice President and Global General Manager Barbie has said "We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty. Barbie has always given girls choices – from her 180 careers, to inspirational roles, to her countless fashions and accessories. We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them."

We have to remember as well, Barbie is still trying to sell their product. These are all still femme figures wearing dresses with makeup on. In addition, all of your Barbie clothes will no longer be interchangeable. If you buy "curvy" Barbie, you have to buy a whole new wardrobe including shoes. I think it's important to remember that a company can make great strides and do good things, but at the end of the day they're still worried about profit.

Something else that's come about with their new rebranding is Barbie Vlogs. Currently there are eight episodes and you can watch all of them HERE:

When you have a Barbie, you want her to be your friend not just a doll. You want to know more about her life, her adventures. Beyond books or TV shows, a vlog feels so much more personal in this internet riddled age. She calls her subscribers her friends.

One episode in you can tell that the company has heard the criticisms and is taking them into account. Barbie Roberts, a transplant from Wisconsin to Malibu, lists 10 facts about herself. Fashion is included, but is far surpassed by nuggets of athleticism, creativity, and curiosity. She comes off as a "normal" middle class, every day girl. The second episode goes back to her traditional fashion and hair focus, but is different than what we're used to from Barbie. She encourages her friends to try new things, experiment with clothes and hair. She shows us her selfies. This is important to me because it instills that it's okay to like how you look, even if you look different every week. It's totally normal to take selfies and to like yourself. The fourth episode she gets a little deeper, talking about "raising our voices" and not being afraid to speak up. She encourages her friends to use their voice to stand up for people and help people. In a video mostly about puppies, she lets us know that we shouldn't force people to do things when they're nervous. It's okay to be shy and we should be understanding of those who are.

Intermingled with these episodes there are fun videos of normal YouTuber channels: Draw My Life, taking quizzes, introducing her puppy, favorite holiday traditions, normal chatting with your friend vlogs. She incorporates comments from the last video into her next, just like a real live person would. She speaks to you as an equal, a friend. She celebrates her achievements and sets goals for the future. She doesn't like "resolutions" because that makes it sound like you have something to fix. She likes to make a list of "opportunities" for the coming year.

This type of content, be it the new lines of dolls or the vlogs, being available for young kids is so important and people are taking notice. Not only people with young children, but young adults on Tumblr are sharing gifs from the vlogs and reposting articles in praise of this new campaign. Parents are happy to have more positive role models for their children and more diverse options to choose from. Seeing this doll that you love to play with every day discussing important issues of acceptance and self love is something that kids will pick up and keep. It seems as though it's hard for some people to realize how already ingrained kids' idea of beauty is at such a young age.

"We see it a lot. The adult leaves the room and they undress the curvy Barbie and snicker a little bit,” says Tania Missad, who runs the research team for Mattel’s girls portfolio. “For me, it’s these moments where it just really sets in how important it is we do this. Over time I would love it if a girl wouldn’t snicker and just think of it as another beautiful doll.”

As so many young girls see this doll as an ideal, it's amazing that will be different views of that ideal for them to pick from when purchasing a Barbie. We would hope that our children grow up knowing that everyone looks completely different and there is not a "right" way to look. There will be criticisms of this new release. With so many different shapes of woman and colors of skin, eyes, and hair not to mention different styles, there will be someone left out of these new designs. However, I don't think it's fair to ignore what a huge step in the right direction this is. I'm really excited to see how successful this "evolution" is and where Barbie will go in the future.

To see all the new dolls, visit the Barbie website HERE.

Until Next Time,
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Valentine Day Gifts for the Guy in Your Life

No matter how long you've been with someone, Valentine's can hold a certain sort of pressure. You just got each other Christmas presents and now you need to find something fun and romantic to celebrate your love together. I scoured the internet and find my 5 top picks under $30 for your man friend.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Valentine's Gift Ideas for the Gal in Your Life

Whether you're in a new relationship or you've been together for a while, Valentine's Day can put some pressure on a relationship. I searched high and low and these are my top picks for VDay presents. Bonus: they're all under $30. You can combine them with something else or they stand alone nicely!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Golden Globes Fashion

There were so many beautiful women and men at the Golden Globes this year. I love award shows because I love seeing people dressed up and feeling good about themselves and celebrating their craft. This year was really hard to pick my top 10 favorites ensembles of the night. If you're super into award show outfits like me I do have some special mentions. Not pictured in my top 10, but still outstanding choice of garb, I would recognize: Viola Davis, Corinne Foxx, Ana de la Reguera, Uzo Aduba and Eva Longoria.

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Haute Couture

Jenna Dewan Tatum in Zuhair Murad
Kate Bosworth in Dolce & Gabbana

Jennifer Lopez in Giambattista Valli

Melissa Benoist in Monique Lhuillier

Monday, January 11, 2016

7 Ways to Self Love

People let their feathers get ruffled when the topic of "self love" comes up. When speaking of taking time to tend to yourself or giving yourself props, people worry about being seen as selfish or conceited. We would never question someone cancelling plans because their sister was sick and needed taking care of or their best friend was just dumped and needed love. But when you need a mental health day, you fear that people will scoff.
"How dare you take care of yourself?" They'll say.

I don't believe that to be true. In my experience, when I'm open and honest about what I need people are beyond understanding. They want me to stay home and eat cheese and take long baths if that will help me be 100% tomorrow when we rescheduled for. No one wants to hang out with someone who's distracted anyway. So, now that we've blown the myth that self care and love is selfish out of the water - how do you practice this?

  1. Schedule your self care time. - And don't budge!
    • It is okay to say no to plans with other people because you have plans with yourself. Self care is important and you don't have to explain yourself.
  2. Spend some time alone without social media, texts, or phone calls.
    • Some people find that their self care involves blogging or reading articles online so I would not take internet out of the equation all together. I think the being alone part is the most important. Spending time by yourself can help reset your buttons. You can focus on what's important to you without being influenced involuntarily by others.
  3. Take yourself out.
    • Go see that movie that no one else seems interested in. Go to the restaurant you've been suggesting for months. Go read in a coffee shop.
  4. Dance party.
    • I will never not suggest dancing as a way to lift your spirits and take care of yourself. It doesn't matter if you're a "good" trained dancer or not - just have fun!
  5. Do something you really love.
    • Make a list of 10 things you really love doing. When you're at a loss later for how to unwind, you can look back on this list for ideas. Even if you don't feel like doing it - try.
  6. List 5 things that make you happy.
    • Today mine are: the way the new flannel sheets feel against my skin, my nail color, seeing my friends' selfies, white peppermint M&Ms, and writing this blog.
  7. Drink some tea.
    • Or hot chocolate or coffee. I find that with hot beverages I savor them more because they take time to prepare. Plus, once they're cold they're usually weird. Make your liquid and sit down with it. Watch the steam, drink it slowly. Savor it.

Until Next Time,
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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Saturday in Duluth

This past weekend Myke and I spent some time in Duluth, our new (to me) stomping grounds. We started off at Grandma's Saloon & Grill, a Duluth institution since 1976. This, the original location, is right by the Aerial Lift bridge. I had smokey bacon mac and cheese, Myke ate a Godfather sandwich (roast beef with hot peppers and au ju), and we had onion rings to start. It was all delicious.

Monday, January 4, 2016

December Hits

It's that time again! The end of a month brings Lauren's favorite things!

  • Lush's Christingle - this body conditioner is a God send. You put it on in the shower and I let it sit for a while before rinsing it off. It smells of peppermint and is bright blue. When you wash it off your skin and pat yourself dry, you find that your skin is 60% softer. All without having to apply lotion! My only compliant is that it's already gone from the website!

  • Adele's 25.
  • Cranberry Mayonnaise - you can make your own or buy it from the North Shore Smokehaus like we did! It goes great with crackers and cheese or you could make your turkey sandwich feel a little bit fancier!

  • Laura's Nail Polish Remover - This is not technically called "Laura's", but she's the goddess that brought this into my life so.... 1 step only! Put your finger in and twist. There are brushes inside that help remove the nail polish without the use of cotton balls!
  • Homemade Ice Cream - The flavors we have made so far: chocolate orange, espresso, mint chocolate chip, pecan praline, key lime pie, blueberry lemon, vanilla, eggnog, cookies and cream, and mint cookies and cream.

  • Pentatonix On My Way Home tour documentary on Netflix. I thought this was so well done. It shows you a lot of the behind the scenes from the tour and also of the group themselves. I thought they got pretty personal while still showing you performances and letting you hear songs. I might've cried a little as well.
  • Saw Woodblind perform this song at Pagan Brewing Company and it's bring stuck in my head ever since. I've listened to it at least once a day and did a don't hate the shake video for it on my IG! The video is so precious with the animation and the little old lady is my favorite. Seriously, obsessed.
  • Optimism - Everyone's always so psyched and optimistic to ring in a new year. People view it as a fresh start, a time to begin again. I love feeling that energy in the world. Whatever your resolutions are, maybe add "Practice self love and care regularly" on there. It will never hurt you to be nice to yourself. The better you feel the better you can take care of business.

Is there anything that I missed this month that you were just living for? Pass it along! I want to know everything!

Until Next Time,
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