Date of Award


Degree Type



Edward Cahill

Second Advisor

Amy Aronson


My project will consist of three major parts. I want to take a brief look at how the hegemonic ideals of feminine beauty in the United States have evolved over the past fifty years, since Barbie was introduced in 1959. Also, I will go through a history of Mattel’s Barbie doll, including the development of the doll and some of its many different manifestations over the years. Then I will use these two components to investigate the relationship between exposure to the doll and young women’s perception of beauty, as well as other potentially subconscious ideals they may internalize from her. From there I will explore the idea that Barbie seems to be an especially dangerous phenomenon because she is so prolific and ubiquitous, as both a product and creator of culture. Although I recognize young boys may also play with Barbie dolls, my project will only focus on the relationship females have with the doll. My research will consist of consulting books, scholarly journal articles, and previously conducted experiments that test the affects of exposing children to Barbie. Since actual experiments are extremely rare in sociology, most of the data collected in my sources was done through series of interviews. Additionally, I will be viewing photos of different incarnations of the doll over the past five decades, and segments of the movies Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Legally Blonde, and Mean Girls.