Living in a Barbie World

Image is a key factor in PR.

Image can be defined as self-image, corporate image, current or present image, wish image, multiple image, and mirror image.

  • Self-Image Depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, gender, I.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person, either from personal experiences or by internalizing the judgments of others
  • Corporate Image This is the overall image or impression of an organization. It involves corporate culture, policy, activities, products and services.
  • Current or Present Image This kind of image is determined by corporate intelligence. In other words, through public opinion research or opinion pool it is the impression being held by the public based on the knowledge and the experience.
  • Wish Image The desired image in which many organizations want to have especially the new ones. They wish to be perceived as fine organizations.
  • Multiple Image An organization might be associated with these types of image due to varied attitudes and behaviors of the individual’s sales representatives as well as branches of the establishment. Such is detrimental to the services of the organization.

When Barbie is broken down into these “image” sub categories her self-image is as close as perfect can get: a woman that society believes to have the ideal body who can “do anything.”

The corporate image of Mattel is no doubt one of the best brands out there. It has been thriving since 1945 and living off of its sole seller: the Barbie Doll.

The current Image of the Mattel has recently taken a turn when talk started about Barbie being a bad role model for young girls. The “Wishful Image” of Mattel is one that everyone will be able to look up to, especially young girls. As a result a “new and improved,” less perfect looking Barbie has stocked shelves.

Source: Cafe Mom

Source: Cafe Mom

Truthfully, Mattel could be sporting multiple images. This new and improved Barbie could just be a great PR move to raise their sales. A woman of unrealistic features that causes young girls to want to become something they are not has caused sale revenue to deplete. The Monster High doll collection and the classic American Girl dolls have taken their place.

So, what’s it like to be Barbie?

If Barbie were real it would be like walking into a sci-fi movie or your worst nightmare. Half of us either grew up knowing who Barbie is or we were raised on the doll, learning facets of the ideal woman. The mechanical build of Barbie was graphed to idealize the perfect woman-the perfect image of femininity and body appearance.

If Barbie were real, her 16-inch waist would be four inches thinner than her head, leaving room for only half a liver and a few inches of intestine-not to mention, she would be missing rib bones as well. With 3.5-inch wrists and 6-inch ankles, she would be incapable of lifting anything besides a cell phone. With features like this, the real Barbie would have to walk on all fours instead of her size three feet. She would have no stability to support what little body weight she already has.

Calculating Barbie’s measurements, her BMI would specifically be 16.24, which fits the weight criteria for anorexia. Anorexic Barbie-that has a horrid yet strangely accurate ring to it.

Source: Women You Should Know

Source: Women You Should Know

If this surreal super woman body became reality, the woman would not have enough body fat to function properly. But, according to scientist, the “Barbie body type” occurs in every 1 out of 100,000 women. This could be seen as a gift or a curse (Click here to see a real life Barbie)!

Barbie has impacted many of young girls’ lives. Beginning as young as age 3, the average American girl has 10 Barbie dolls. Barbie has impacted one woman’s life to the extent of idolization. Not only did she want Barbie to be a part of her toy collection, but she wanted to become Barbie.

Cindy Jackson underwent 20 plastic surgery operations that estimated $55,000. Whether this look was ultimately accomplished, is unknown, but to attain the abdominal measurements of Barbie, ribs would have to be removed.

With all of the criticism received on the Barbie product, Mattel has decided to reinvent her to look more like an actual woman. The CDC measurements of an average 19-year-old woman were put into a 3D model. The model was then Photoshopped to bring the average woman to Barbie doll life.

The new Barbie appeared to be shorter with a stockier built, but viewing the CDC measurements (listed above) they seemed accurate in my opinion.

Hopefully this new and improved Barbie will purify young children’s minds to accept and love their naturally defined bodies for how they are, while putting Mattel back on top of the toy market.

Perhaps this PR strategy is their saving grace!

Image is very important, especially in the PR world, but how you perceive your own image is even more important!

Gabrielle Burgess Smith
Vice President of Public Relations
Eastern Michigan University PRSSA
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