Barbie Struts into an Islamic Stronghold

By Scott Peterson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, February 17, 1999 | Go to article overview

Barbie Struts into an Islamic Stronghold


Scott Peterson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


To many hard-line clerics in Iran, the most insidious cultural threat to the values of the Islamic revolution comes in a hot pink box and sits on toyshop shelves.

Barbie, with her curvaceous body, miniskirts, and platinum-blond hair, hardly represents the Islamic image of women fostered in Iran. Here, women must cover their hair in public. Lipstick is a sign of defiance.

But the American icon - which is one of the most sought-after toys worldwide - is a big hit with Iranian girls. Despite Iran officially being a closed society, Barbie is sold on the open market. It's led some to say that Barbie is heading up an unwanted "cultural invasion" from the West that has also brought hamburgers and Hollywood. Iranian officials raced to turn out an acceptable, Islamic answer to Barbie in time for the 20th anniversary of the revolution, which was Feb. 11. But the production date for Sara and her brother Dara has been set back to spring for lack of "suitable hair." "About Barbie, we not only think it is not good for our children here, we think it is not suitable for American children," says Majid Qaderi, a director at the Institute of Children and Young Adults Development Center in Tehran, which has designed the new dolls. But Barbie nevertheless is being groomed for abroad. Jill Barad, the chief executive of Mattel Inc., which is based in El Segundo, Calif., and makes Barbie, has made a major push to expand into global markets. In Mr. Qaderi's view, Barbie dolls "only teach consumerism" and cause children to grow up too fast. "Bad influences" include profligate dress, makeup, and an example of "unlimited freedom of relationships ... between boys and girls." "Barbie is a symbol of American culture," says Qaderi. "The first thing we can do is teach our children about who they are {as Iranians}, about their own culture.... We have to act in a way that the kids themselves reject the bad part {of Western culture} and absorb the good part." 'Westernization' of Iran Barbie dolls are not the only American influence on the lives of Iranians, who had a long experience with Western culture prior to the 1979 revolution. That watershed event was in part a violent reaction to the extensive "Westernization" of Iranian society by Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi. The result was a theocratic Islamic regime that sought to restrict outside influence on Iranians. Now, Western movies and music are prohibited. But many Iranians had seen the blockbuster film "Titanic" within a week of its release in the United States last year - often watching bootleg videotapes that had been shot with a hand-held camcorder in a movie theater. Western music is another hot commodity: Sometimes smugglers hide as many as 30 CDs under their clothing. And the popularity of hamburgers, pizza, and imitation Nike shoes means that countering this "invasion" has been difficult. For children, the American influence is quite apparent: Barbie dolls, which cost $25 to $30 each, share shelf space with videos and toys that range from Batman and Power Rangers to Snow White and Pocahontas. "So much of the discussion of a 'cultural invasion' is useless, with the expansion of global communications, satellite TV, the Internet, and so much information," says Bobak, a toyshop owner in downtown Tehran. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Barbie Struts into an Islamic Stronghold
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.