Cultural icons are not just merely widely recognized persons or things; they inspire keen interest and dedication, if not obsession and addiction on the part of collectors, designers and most importantly, consumers. Barbie has been an important part of the toy fashion doll market for nearly fifty years. Launched in 1959, Barbie has become the best-selling fashion doll as well as a cultural icon.
Actually, some people buy, sell, collect and examine Barbie as a hobby and a past-time activity. These people are willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money and time on Barbie. The question is: why? One would say Barbie is just an object, a piece of plastic dressed up. However, Barbie is much more complex than that. Barbie has her own cosmology and in her universe women are first; Ken, her boyfriend, happens to be one of her accessories. She was made perfect; her body is relatively the same as it was over 40 years ago and she can be considered the epitome of the song "I'm Every Woman" by Whitney Houston.
Some people seem to have no conscious thoughts about how Barbie is defined in terms of race, sexuality, and femininity. She is a "fictive icon," contributing to a culture by letting members act as if something is real or true even while they know it is not. She is also a "fantastic icon," in that her presence in American culture extends and embellishes what is actual, possible, or conceivable. Along with Superman, Barbie has the capacity to free people's imaginations from the constraints of culture's definitions and requirements. Her very essence is magical, romantic, and enchanting (Rogers 3).
The introduction of Barbie also illustrated the complex identification process through which children become involved with and attached to a toy and demonstrated the power of a doll as an idol. Toys describe how children should act. Adults expect girls to play with dolls like Barbie or Cabbage Patch, while they expect boys to play with action toys.... [continues]
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