Girls and dolls

This video was brought to my attention by a friend this evening. Have a watch and see what you think.

My initial reaction was OMG THAT IS SO CREEPY LOOK AT HER EYEBALLS. But then I began to think – this girl is 15. On a daily basis I see young girls that age who are caked in just as much make-up as this girl, only instead of powder and iris-extending contact lenses, they opt for oodles of fake tan, fake eyelashes, padded bras and fake nails. And I have to admit, I don’t find the doll look significantly creepier than the one I’m more culturally used to.

I also found it interesting that the female presenter said she would be “horrified” if her daughter chose to look like that, saying “it’s not normal, is it?” What is normal for a 15 year old girl these days? I genuinely do not know. I wonder if she would be fine with her daughter wearing the same amount of make-up as she herself does every day. That’s not a jibe at the presenter, I am well aware that she does not control what goes on her face or body, such is the glamorous nature of being a female on television. I’m just saying that personally, in terms of the shit on their face, I don’t see much of a difference between the young girl and the presenter (aside from age).

The issue here is not some teenage girls wanting to look like dolls. It’s that for a long time now, such dolls have become the personification of the ultimate role models for our female children. Dolls have everything a girl could ever want. They have big houses and cute pets and awesome clothes and big pink cars. They are pretty and youthful. You have never seen an ugly, fat, flat-chested Barbie. They never age, they never wrinkle. Dolls are human-like, but are, importantly, objects. They do what you want them to do without questioning or talking back, always with a big, beaming smile on their face. Is that what we want to turn our daughters into? Is that really the best we can offer them?

We shouldn’t be telling these young girls that dressing like dolls is creepy. We should be asking them why the hell they would want to be a doll in the first place. Whether that doll is a porcelain, big-eyed anime character or an orange plastic Barbie, our girls need to know that they can be better than that.

If we don’t want our girls to look like this, how about we stop shoving this kind of ideological imagery in their pretty little faces from the moment they can hand-grasp?

Additional notes added after some sleep: Having watched a few of Venus’s own youtube videos, it becomes clear that this is a very intelligent young lady. She apparently speaks five languages and is clearly very articulate. Perhaps this is just a case of expressive teenage identity and individuality and she is different in that she has the confidence (perhaps built up through a massive following and external gratification on youtube) to pull it off, even though it is a bit “odd”. We do tend to associate femininity with weakness, perhaps what this girl is really doing is rebelling against such a view and combining extreme doll-like femininity with her own intelligent personality. How do we want our teenage girls to look? Should they embrace their femininity or should we encourage them to be more gender-neutral? I have always believed it’s all about choice and if your daughter wished to look like Venus for a while, would you encourage that as a marker of individuality, or tell her she is being ridiculous?

I really don’t know what to think about this one – what say yee, dear readers?

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4 thoughts on “Girls and dolls

  1. Willemijn says:

    I think it would only be creepy/ weird/ upsetting if she actually wanted to be a doll or was pretending to be one on a full time basis. Some people go for a goth style- that doesn’t mean they want to be or think they are vampires. They just like black a lot. I think she just has her own sense of style! Is it any worse than people copying Madonna back in the 80s/90s? Or dressing like Cheryl Cole? She isn’t damaging her health for example (I think teenagers using tan beds and increasing their risks of skin cancer is a lot worse) and the videos aren’t sexually explicit or anything. I really don’t see the big deal.

    • pygmylorisreid says:

      Yeah I have to agree. The more I watch her the more I like and kind of admire her. I like her for making me question how I feel about stuff like this.

  2. Claire says:

    I’ve seen this look before, though I always knew it as the “Lolita” look. It originated in Japan, but I have seen girls dressed like that in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. I never heard it associated with dolls. For me it was always the Manga thing.
    I love the look, I see it as both feminine and rebellious. If I was young enough to pull it off, Id be dressing like that! And if my hypothetical daughter came to me on day dressed like that I’d be jealous. 😉

  3. NewDogOldTricks says:

    I empathize with her a lot. I am definitely a feminist, and I have a rather high IQ. I also dress like I just walked out of either 1880 or 1950, depending on my mood. I know that these styles may seem like I am a ditz, but I don’t care. I feel happy and confident in my skin, and if people underestimate me, then I have fun correcting them. I enjoy wearing what I do, not because of the connotations, but because I genuinely feel good about myself.

    I hope I’ve made some sense here.

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