Tag Archives: consumerism

Over-consumption- the key issue in the Western world. Reffering to the lecture ”Making cultures”

Unhappiness at too much choice and the stress of too little money are common problems of everyone who does shopping. Desire of having more and more, excessive consumerism , which  often ends up with achieving opposite instead of giving pleasure. People are not satisfied with what they already got , as tempting and at the same time falsified commercials show new , modified products .Also cultural consumption is a sign of taste that individual has or the lack of it. Individuals in the consumer culture, speak not only with their clothes, but with their home, furnishings, decoration, car.   While I was looking at Barbara’s Kruger posters, I saw the one which appealed to me :


”I shop therefore I am” -the short sentence, layered on the top of black and white picture is similar to  the French philosopher René Descartes famous quote “Cogito ergo sum”…..”I think therefore I am”   .    My interpretation of the poster is that ,  for instance I create my outward image by buying things. Clothes, accessories, food, gadgets – it’s all about making choices. The things that I buy express myself in some point.

Consumer paradise

Commodity choice,  that Western World is feeding us with, is so big, that if often leave people with feeling unhappy because of too much of choice and because of buying to many things that we actually don’t need. A lot of brands exaggerate qualities of their products , make customers feel that it’s necessarily to have them, as it will make them feel happy . It happened to me many times, that going for shopping to buy shoes, ended up with buying a dress , even if I didn’t need it . The obsession of consumption of material goods and commodified experiences accelerates the economy .  But where is the board between rational consumerism and over-consumption?  I think  that it starts when people realize that they’ve got too many objects which they  don’t actually need and they still have desire for essential meaningless shopping.

How it refers to Barbie culture? 

I think that tempting commercials of Barbie dolls and all her accessories is linked with need of children for having all these things.  I think the picture below, which comes from The Pink and Blue Projects in terms of gendering children is perfect example of over-consumption of parents, buying too many toys for their children.

oink projec





Looking closer at Barbie as an icon, according to the book ” Barbie culture ” by Mary F.Rogers

Nature of Barbie as an icon, has multiply meanings. She is such an icon , as are Playboy and superman centrefolds.  She is an icon in people’s experiences with her.  Interesting facts, are that she has no children, no husband, no teachers, no boss. The ‘perfect’ world, in which she lives , revolves around her boyfriend Ken and her friends. The consumerism world of Barbie doesn’t end just on dolls: there is Barbie magazine, Barbie cosmetics, Barbie art and even society. Mattel’s advertisements for Barbie describe Barbie as fashionable, glamorous, stunning, elegant. It comes to the point, where Barbie is an icon of white, heterosexual femininity  in contemporary Western societies. A lot of young girls describe her as their idol and that they wish, they looked like her. In my conclusion, she plays a big role in most young kids’ lives.  I also think, that she has the ability to define perfection, but in very exaggerated way. She is an artifact, that has bad effect on young girls minds.

The consumerization of children

In the book, I found report of girl Brenda, who said :” I used to think how cool it would be to have Barbie’s clothes, hair, styles, smiles, and all her accessories. Everything she had, I wished I had. She could have anything she wanted-sport cars, new furniture, a new house, new clothes, a big pool, and a whole bunch of shoes. ”  – I think that it’s very common reaction, as I remember that when I used to play with Barbie dolls, I wanted to be like her too.

According to what this girls said and also a few other children, Barbie had everything- clothes, cars, beauty. She represents some kind of unreal or extreme material comfort, what people form the middle class normally can’t afford. In my opinion, it has big impact on woman’s  psyche and well being as it makes us ( woman) to have a need for approval , which includes slim tights, flat stomach and boyish hips abviously  and striving to perfect body and look, which is impossible , as there always can be something what could be improved. In the book I found opinion, of Hesse-Biber, who  has published widely on the impact of sociocultural factors on women’s body image: ”Barbie also shows that a woman ”may never find relief from the Cult of Thinness.” Barbie is a fashion doll, that symbolize a culture’s idealized woman.  That makes me to think about anorexia, bulimia and about how we (female) perceive ourselves when we look in the mirror.

That’s what The Toy Manufacturers of America  say:

”Children today have unprecedented power as consumers… Kids spend approximately $2.6 billion of their own money on play items such as toys, bikes and  roller skates and $530 million on consumer electronics. In addition, children exert considerable influence on parents making household buying decisions. ”

I think that commercials and adverts play crucial role in  accelerating of fetish of Barbie consumerism. Watching commercials of Barbie dolls and accessories makes a desire of having them .

Barbie as a post human prototype according to the book ” Cyborgs and Barbie dolls” by Kim Toffoletti.

On the first page of third chapter of the book ”Cyborgs and Barbie dolls” I found a sentence which draw my attention :” Barbie is so pervasive in contemporary culture that she hardly requires description.”  It’s so true.  Her image is widespread in all over the world, particularly among little girls, but in the beginning of 60’s , after she was launched onto the market by Mattel, Barbie was a fashion doll for adults to buy. When I think about her from perspective of adult girl, I realise a lot of Barbie’s bad features , which I wouldn’t see if i was 6  year old child. The first thing, which stands out , is her  unobtainable and unrealistic body proportions, which actually make a lot of woman feel inadequate. She became perfect model of femininity, with her tiny waist, extra long slim legs and thick blond hair.

Other moderinised forms of femininity  typified by consumerism are manequins . Usually, the ones that I see in shop displays are ultra slim with ultra sleek surface, which imitates skin. Shop-display mannequins emphasise non-human qualities.   In the world of consumerism, woman became commodity which is easily exchangeable for better, improved model.  It caused vicious cycle , where women pursue for perfect body and appearance.  ‘Invention’ of Barbie contributed to tension between the real and the ideal, where precipice between real look of female and fake , posthuman body doll-Barbie is massive.

I think that image of posthuman Barbie doll is related to eating disorders- anorexia and bulimia among young girls , which has grown 400% since 1970.  Small girls who play with Barbie dolls and for whom she is an authority, they familiarize themselves with the ideal look of woman , and it has further consequences in perceiving themselves.

Aiming to perfect look, not always ends up with wanted consequences-  it’s often beginning of struggle with anorexia or endless feeling of inadequacy.