So, after a hard days work, I am strolling down a major shopping precinct in a major European city, appreciating the fabulous weather and the late night shopping, when I see this slogan 'WHEN YOU LOOK THIS GOOD, NOBODY CARES IF YOU'RE PLASTIC', emblazoned on a shop window, behind which life-size mannequins are rotating on pedestals, with some quite out-there fashion. Huh, I thought, how very post-modern to address the relationship between the fashion we as humans are meant to be wearing and the non-living icons that model the clothes that they want us to wear- to make explicit the unsaid- yada, yada, yada. And then I got a bit closer.
And, it turns out, it is not post-modern at all. No, Barbie is back and this time she is for grown- ups. Paul's Boutique, London [the brand, not the city] has co-opted every little girl's fantasy, plastered it onto a range of extremely expensive, and certainly not for little girl's, handbags and hopes that grown women want to be seen wearing Barbie slogans. Infantalising much?
Really? What woman wants to be associated with a children's toy? Perhaps, the buyer of this, also from Paul's Boutique.
Now, I get the studenty, reclaim our childhood memories type memorabilia is popular at the moment, as people wear their favourite children's tv show on a t-shirt or carry around their Bagpuss bags. But, to spend hundreds of pounds on accessories so that you can look like a childhood toy, and a toy that symbolises the impossible standards of bodily perfection placed on women from a young age, is just disturbing.
And what about that slogan? The relationship between a desire to look like Barbie and plastic surgery is more than a little explicit in our culture, and to tie that into a message about the acceptability of being 'plastic' reinforces that if you don't conform to cultural beauty norms, it is a failure of your purchasing power. In essence, buy this bag [or your face, or this dress, or this pair of boobs, or these shoes] or you are not beautiful.
The link between capitalism and patriarchy at its most explicit. Thanks Paul.