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Vol. 7 No. 1 (2016): ESS - Inclusion. Context, processes and practices

Don’t call it “dolly”. The geo-political revolution of fashion dolls

  • Massimiliano Stramaglia
luglio 28, 2016


In an essay first published in 1967, Donald W. Winnicott finds in playing «the location of the cultural experience». Therefore, the toy (or the transitional object) positions itself as expression of the prevailing culture and the social codes that mould the different educational structures each time. According to the historian Maria Rumi, ever since mass production, dolls is overall one of the best selling toys in the male tradition and in the female world. This contribution aims to analyse the present changes within the production of fashion dolls in a three-way visual viewpoint: the revolution of the bodily stereotype of Barbie, which after representing the initial male fetish, becomes the embodiment of female identity; the cultural model of the Islamic dolls, which in opposition to western culture, propose female models which are milder and are subject to the dominant theo-political dictates; finally, we find the strange case of the widely
unknown doll of Hugo Chávez, which became symbol of a popular revolution (for some, populist) to the point of being a great success among adult supporters of the then President of Venezuela. In this way, the doll becomes an instrument of inclusion or exclusion, according to the specific way to approach it. The fashion doll ceases to be an inanimate object and takes shape in the social imaginary and educates, not always intentionally, the consciences of adults and children.

inclusion; society; education; politics


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