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Cadernos de Pesquisa

Print version ISSN 0100-1574On-line version ISSN 1980-5314

Cad. Pesqui. vol.45 no.155 São Paulo Jan./Mar. 2015 


Girls' beauty according to "Barbie's tips"

Ivana Guilherme Simili 1  

Michely Calciolari de Souza 2  

Peter Laspina3 

1Professor in the Graduate Program in History - PPH - Universidade Estadual de Maringá - UEM -, Maringá, Paraná, Brasil;

2Master's in Education from the Graduate Program in Education - PPE - Universidade Estadual de Maringá - UEM - Maringá, Paraná, Brazil;


The notion of beauty in childhood and the practices of beautification directed at girls were analyzed based on the Barbie tips found in the book byFabiane Ariello (2007). Written and visual information were found in the doll's guidelines, which allowed assessment of the production of meaning regarding what it means to be beautiful and how to become beautiful. In those guidelines, we noticed the exchange between the behaviors of aesthetic care and the consumption of fashion goods and products, specifically in services related to appearance and artifacts/objects of the cosmetic industry. Such artifacts portray a standard of beauty that interferes with the construction of gender identity and the education of girls during childhood.

Key words: Education; Girls; Barbie; Beauty


A noção de beleza na infância e as práticas de embelezamento direcionadas às meninas foram analisadas a partir das dicas da Barbie, veiculadas no livro de Fabiane Ariello (2007). Nas orientações da boneca, encontramos materiais escritos e visuais que permitiram dimensionar as produções de significados para o que é ser bela e como tornar-se bela. Nelas, vislumbramos os trânsitos entre as condutas de cuidados estéticos e o consumo de bens e produtos da moda, em específico de serviços relacionados às aparências e de artefatos/objetos da indústria cosmética. Tais artefatos indicam um padrão de beleza que interfere na construção da identidade de gênero e na educação das meninas no período da infância.

Palavras-Chave: Educação; Meninas; Barbie; Beleza.


La noción de belleza en la niñez y las prácticas de embellecimiento dirigidas a las niñas fueron analizadas a partir de las orientaciones de Barbie, vehiculadas en el libro de Fabiane Ariello (2007). Según las indicaciones de la muñeca, encontramos materiales escritos y visuales que permitieron dimensionar las producciones de significados para lo que es ser bella y cómo embellecerse. En ellas vislumbramos los tránsitos entre las conductas de cuidados estéticos y el consumo de bienes e productos en boga, más específicamente de servicios relacionados con las apariencias e de artefactos/objetos de la industria cosmética. Dichos artefactos indican un patrón de belleza que interfiere en la construcción de la identidad de género y en la educación de las niñas durante el periodo de la infancia.

Palabras-clave: Educación; Niñas; Barbie; Belleza.

One of the changes observed in the behaviors of girls, with multiple resonances in Brazilian schools, is in regard to the concern with aesthetics and beauty. Stimulated by families and the fashion goods and products market, with broad coverage in the print, televised and virtual media, the day-to-day life of girls is marked by practices of beautification of the body aimed at the achievement of beauty. Dieting, skin care, use of creams and make-up, visiting beauty salons for nail and hair care (straightening, brushing, dyeing), shopping for clothes and dressing in such a way as to show off beautiful and fashionable appearances, are consumer concepts and practices that construct the culture of appearance shared among contemporary girls.

The underlying question that permeates the analysis, in this article, is the understanding of the connections between children's fashion and education, by approaching the roles performed by the media in the production of subjectivities in children, particularly in girls, for the consumption of esthetic standards that define the notion of beauty.

With this goal, one of the communication artifacts developed by the print media to stimulate consumption of beauty products and concepts among girls: books that use the central character of the Barbie doll, used as an instrument to discuss and to show girls how "to be beautiful" or which will make them "become beautiful". Among the projects produced with this feature one can find the book Dicas da Barbie, by Fabiane Ariello (2007), used here to approach the influences and appropriations of esthetic standards and behaviors aimed at the achievement of beauty.

The creation of the Barbie doll

Understanding the guidelines about how "to be beautiful", contained in Dicas de beleza da Barbie and aimed at girls, demands that we follow the path taken by the doll in the history of toys and children's fashion, specifically in the creation, communication and dissemination of values related to esthetics - the body, clothes and consumer behaviors that go along with them (BARNARD, 2003).

The popularization of television and the success of movies as well as the growth of the clothing and toy markets, especially dolls, are notable phenomena at the end of the 1950s. In this period, it is seen that the advancement of children's fashion in clothing and dolls had leverage in consumer goods and products - creams, shampoos, lotions. Amid the changes in the culture of appearance of girls, and participating in these changes, Barbie was created by the Mattel company in 1959.

In the book Barbie and Ruth, Robin Gerber (2009) provides clues that connect the Barbie doll to the social and cultural changes seen in the United States and Brazil, turning girls into the target audience of the consumer market of fashion goods and products. According to the author, Mattel was a North American toy company that held an important place in the production and consumption of dolls. The owner, Ruth Handler, who led the company with her husband, Elliot, appears as someone who was bothered by the models of dolls offered in the market to girls in all age groups. To her, a new type of doll that got the attention of older girls was necessary, as the baby dolls no longer attracted this public.

Barbie was born of what is considered, in the reading and interpretation of the creation of the doll, a "necessity" seen by the owner to provide girls with a model and style of toy that supplanted those existing in the market. The perception of this need is said to be the result of observing her daughter Barbara and her friends playing with dolls. She noticed that the girls were interested - among the many images of children, animals and toys - in the paper dolls cut from fashion magazines, that is, adult dolls.

In searching for a doll that met the demands of the girls, Ruth found, traveling in Europe with the family, the Bild Lilli. This was a souvenir doll with sensual and suggestive features that was aimed at the adult male public, winning over men from the wealthier classes with its erotic stories.

It is mentioned, in the ongoing narratives seeking to highlight the history of Barbie, that Handler evaluated the Bild Lilli as having the right features for the doll that she dreamed of producing and putting on the toy market for girls. The adaptation process was long and tense. Gerber (2009) comments that, when Ruth showed the designers at Mattel what she wanted to do with Bild Lilli, giving her new clothes in order to transform her into a doll that suited the taste of girls, her proposal was refused. Nevertheless, the project continued, which raises the thought of Handler's investments and her bet on the power that the new doll could have on the consumer market of toys for girls.

According to Gerber (2009), Jack Ryan, one of the designers for the company, took a copy of the Lilli doll to Japan so that the Japanese manufacturers would understand the Barbie doll project. The choice of a Japanese manufacturer was due to the high production costs in the United States, given the types of materials used in the production of the doll.

Along with the production of the dolls, Handler developed partnerships with cosmeticists and stylists, clear evidence of her intention to make the doll instill fashion values and behaviors in girls. That is, that they should learn and develop the taste and style of dressing, makeup, hair treatment, overall learning about how to appear beautiful and elegant from the earliest age.

The idea of the doll as a toy for girls is a product of the 19th century, clearly taking its permanent place in the society and culture of the 20th and 21st centuries. The distinction of toys and games based on sex, that is, what is appropriate for boys and girls, appeared in the second half of the 20th century. Arend (2012) asserts that, in Brazil, the early childhood educational manuals predicted that toys and games geared toward girls should act on their physical and psychological integrity. From then on, for girls, "dolls, pots and pans, clothes irons, imitation clothes washers; and, for boys, play cars, boats, trains, balls and rackets" (AREND, 2012, p. 71).

In this way, games highlighted the social roles of the sexes. Women were destined to take care of the house and children, as shown in their games; men were to be independent, should provide a living, play sports and had a social life, as Arend (2012, p. 71) emphasizes:

Docility, sweetness, serenity and resignation were considered the feminine characteristics, while the expectations of men were courage, decisiveness and competitiveness - values and practices that would also be learned in school, now understood as the place of excellence for the formal education of children and youth of both sexes.

The author is clear: toys directly influenced the education of the subjects as "masculine and feminine", consonant with the social and cultural values and behaviors that defined the concepts and the standards of masculinity and femininity. So dolls, particularly, taught and teach appropriate clothing, hair styles and the ideal makeup to girls.

Such lessons are also perpetuated by the Barbie doll, whose creator always stressed her primary purpose: to produce a doll for teenagers, and that Barbie should present a gentle face and dress in clothing that would please and teach the young girls. "Mattel called Barbie the Model of Teenage Fashion, trying to soften her sensuality and to stress, for the parents, the idea that many girls want to dress, and dress up, like a model" (GERBER, 2009, p. 27).

It should be considered that the Barbie doll was not created in a random way. With the product launched by the Mattel company, Ruth Handler intended to create a toy that reached a particular consumer public, that of teenage girls. With the success of the doll, the Barbie line of toys grew, leading girls to consume products that taught the standard of beauty of the tall, blond and thin woman, incorporated and disseminated by the appearance of the doll.

It should be pointed out that the doll, as well as the support material in the book Barbie's Beauty Tips, constitute a pedagogic cultural fashion artifact that, in contemporary society and culture, performs a significant role in modeling the subjectivities of girls, teaching them notions about bodily care and encouraging consumer practices in them.

The "doll's tips", as an editorial product, are significant from the point of view of the transmission of communication strategies with the consumer public, for making advances in the production of fashion and its consumption by girls. As highlighted by Luca (2012), the segmentation of the magazine market and of the public is a historical phenomenon of the production of consumer and fashion goods. It conveys and creates, through advertising, the "needs" to buy, to be the same as the advertisement-girls, to have what is shown on the pages of the magazines. In other words, being the same as fashion models and mannequins.

The launching of Barbie, as a doll that broke the then-existing standard of a toy for girls by offering, in her materiality, a way of playing that was different from what permeated the relationship of girls with dolls. That play characterized, in our understanding, a moment in which a way to control the appearances and behaviors of girls in relation to consumption appeared.

In other words, Barbie, while a device to discipline children's and/or youthful fashion, together with magazines, movies and television, performed a significant role in the perceptions of body and beauty. She acted, thus, in the modeling of the sensibilities of girls, placing them in the fashion market by means of inculcating values and practices of consumption which moved the market forward for goods and products - clothing, creams, shampoos, etc.

The interpretation appears plausible when the panorama of national and international fashion is considered. As Lipovetsky (1989) observed, the years 1950 and 1960 marked the change in the edifice of fashion by installing a new system, which did not mean the total break with the means of operating identified in prior periods.The emergence of prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear clothing) instituted a new logic in industrial production and marketing, finding on the catwalks and in the magazine advertisements a way to grow.

Maria Claudia Bonadio (2010) helps to understand how the changes were reflected in Brazil. The consolidation of prêt-à-porter in Brazil had, in Rhodia, a company established in the country, one of the icons for the development of the industrial park and the clothing sector. Among Rhodia's strategies for expanding the production and consumption of clothing using synthetic threads, which it produced, and, at the same time, establishing competition with Brazilian textile using natural fibers and fine imported fabrics, was the implementation of a policy of publicizing in women's magazines, fashion editorials, reports and announcements, as well as holding fashion shows.

Following the global trend, in Brazil, the appearance of national and prêt-à-porter fashion "reflected the aspirations of youth". The clothing industries, attuned to the demand, hired designers who could design the models dedicated, above all, to the young clientele (MOUTINHO; VALENÇA, 2005, p. 190).

For Maíra Zimmermann (2013), two adjoining phenomena were seen in Brazil since the end of the 1950s and which extended into the following decade: the appearance of the youth fashion and the process of the youth culture which found, in magazines aimed at the young public, a means to disseminate the values, behaviors, ways of being and of living like "the young". With the media coverage of the "British Invasion", led by the Beatles and by the seething Swinging London, a national rock developed that related to the appearance of male and female singers like Roberto Carlos and Wanderléia.The lifestyle and the rebellion of North American youth portrayed in the movies contributed to the modeling of the subjectivities of girls and boys, in which being young and modern was to rebel through visual practices and behaviors that questioned ideas and concepts consisting of ways of being and dressing.

Supported by the communications media, including television, from the second half of the 1960s, the clothes and the behaviors manufactured meaning for the concept of youth. It was in this period that the youth took the sociological consciousness of what it is to be young and the clothing production market for this segment grew significantly in the country, defining and communicating the existence of youth and the culture of youth, which redefined the notion of beauty (ZIMERMANN, 2013).

Through the magazines, elegance and beauty become accessible to women - young and adult - as well as to children, boys and girls. Advertisements for products geared toward the childhood market increased in the periodicals. Considering that, in the history and culture of fashion and appearance, the mothers became responsible for raising their sons and daughters, the topics and articles in the magazines about appropriate clothing and toys for boys and girls focus on the maternal figure as the consumer and the one responsible for family consumption.

Not by chance, magazines segmented by gender and age appeared in the country: Capricho (1959) for girls; Nova (1960) and Claudia (1961) for women; and Quatro Rodas (1960) for men. Such magazines express the on going changes produced by the society and culture of the consumption identifed by the diversification of products and of lifestyles. As Burke (2008, p. 35) wrote, "more and more, what we are buying today is our identity, our idea of ourselves, of the lifestyle that we want".

It would appear that, with the creation and launching of Barbie in the North American market in 1959, as the object of mediated consumption in a period of substantial changes in the logic of national and international fashion, the modern and youthful model offered by her was compatible with the "youth style" or the "lifestyle of youth" directed at the girls. This is an important marker, in any analysis, about Barbie's path, who arrived in Brazil in 1982.

The plot of the story of Barbie's launching on the Brazilian scene is intriguing and suggests that it marked a significant moment in the market strategies of fashion goods and products to boost the production of dolls, clothing and beauty items.

In the mid-1960s, in full swing of the national fashion market, Estrela - a national toy company - created the Susi doll. For Barbie to enter into Brazil, Mattel demanded the recall of Susi and that Estrela sell the Barbie doll exclusively (ROVERI, 2008). Such an agreement was very lucrative for Estrela in the years when Barbie reigned. According to Roveri (2008), the contract with Mattel was later broken and Estrela relaunched Susi in 1997 to compete with the other dolls in the market, including Barbie.

Two models of beauty are clear in Susi and Barbie. The first, morena, thin-waisted with wide hips, the standard of feminine beauty and esthetics recommended and propagated in the magazines as the Brazilian feminine esthetic and style and of the "Brazilian-ness" of women (SANT'ANNA, 2012). The second, the North American esthetic standard of the white, blond woman whose influence over the feminine segments is historic and clear, due to the spreading of this style by North American film actresses, such as Marilyn Monroe, among others.

It seems that in the 1960s, in Brazil, the creation of the national fashion market relied on tailors and companies as one of its operating engines to create and spread the national esthetic and style breaking from foreign influences over the Brazilians, particularly from the United States. Therefore, the appearance of Susi as a Brazilian doll constituted a nationalistic advertising and marketing strategy. It contributed to the formation of images and representations for the children's segments, of what it was to be Brazilian, with the appreciation of the dark hair and bodily features.

Simili's (2014) reflections regarding the strengthening of the national esthetic in the 1960s corroborate this argument. The author showed the processes of constructing a national esthetic that had Maria Thereza Goulart, a beautiful morena, as one of the icons. Extending the reflection to the Susi doll, one would think that she took part in that process of strengthening the morena and the morena-ness that they represented.

"Susi, the doll that likes to dress up", is the slogan that marked her entry into the national toy market, constituting an identity for her and defining how she is remembered in various websites and blogs. Considering the notes about nationalistic values, the doll's features permitted her to be characterized as a "doll made here for girls here", with the "Brazilian" esthetic communicated by the morena-ness of the skin and hair and by the bodily features. Susi, like Barbie, broke with the model of girls' dolls that was available in the toy market, such as Pupi, with the features and behaviors of a baby that cried and slept. It may be said that both Susi and Barbie are icons and representatives of the changes in the ideas of girls' childhood that came about in the 1960s, creating a new role for dolls, that is, to contribute to the growth of the fashion industry in such a way as to encourage the market of the production and commercialization of clothes and beauty products. In this process, girls were transformed and inserted in the world of consumerism and beauty practices of teenagers and young women, breaking and creating new meanings for the concept of "girl".

It is important to highlight that, in the 1980s when Barbie arrived in Brazil, the magazines aimed at adolescents and the media, primarily related to fashion, began to spread standards of beauty and femininity to girls: lean and slender body, thin waist and oversized breasts were and are some of the requirements of an ideal beauty.

The culture of beauty can be understood as "a system of meanings, like the ways in which the beliefs, values and experiences of a society are communicated through practices, artifacts and institutions" (BARNARD, 2003, p. 64).

As such, in the texts and images that produce meaning for Barbie's tips, as an artifact of communication between the doll and the girls, there is a totality of meaning in which the colors, designs, words and things that are presented mean and communicate the values and beliefs in the power and prestige of beauty. In a way, the visual and aesthetic experiences shared and practiced by the girls of the 21stcentury find a form of expression and communication in the book.

The story of beauty in childhood through Barbie

In the theoretical and methodological aspect of the approach to Barbie's "tips", principles that guide research in fashion and education based in cultural studies were considered. In them, the basis for the analysis of the documentation is the fact that the subjects were educated through cultural and social relations and practices (LOURO, 2008). The media, in different formats, play a significant role in modeling the subjectivities, imprinting ways of conceiving the world and behaviors in various sectors and instances of social and cultural life, among which are the consumption to achieve beauty.

We place the body in the middle of the debate, in its mediations and intermediations with the society and culture that produce and give it meaning as a social and cultural body. Siqueira and Faria (2007, p. 172) emphasize that the body consists of a construction as natural as arising from the social (cultural) relations and that "in the media, a space is found where representations of it are broadly constructed and reproduced". Tips, warnings, images, manuals, among others, are means by which the bodies are educated, having standards, speeches and anxieties coming from the concepts conveyed by the media as the parameters.

Even with the passing of the decades and with the changes in styles and preferences, the media - television, movies, newspapers, fashion and etiquette magazines, manuals - stress the importance of bodily appearance to their audiences. They are based on the changes and the models of each period of history; that is, the appearances, tastes, styles and trends change. However, the mediated means do not stop following and disclosing these standards.

This disclosure ultimately over-values particular stereotypes that identify an ideal of beauty, shown as belonging to the majority of people but that, in fact, consists of a small number of people. Thus, the media propagate standards of beauty, behavior and ways of acting that people should follow, over-valuing unattainable ideals which heat up the consumer market (SIQUEIRA; FARIA, 2007).

In a way, studies about dolls, notably the Barbie doll, in modeling the body and the subjectivities of girls, in addition to counting on reasonable historiographic production, have provided knowledge about the relationship of childhood and/or childhood-youth segments with the consumption of fashion and beauty and their influences on education.

Fernanda Roveri (2004), the Brazilian pioneer of studies on the Barbie doll and the education of girls, provides clues about how to understand the advice and tips in the book. According to the author,

Barbie has followed a trajectory that goes from doll to character and from character to icon, whose ultimate purpose is to be stamped onto any type of merchandise aimed at children. Her particular career gives us clues about how our society is structured and pushes it to search for spheres of autonomy that are still possible for children, after having been massacred by adult-centric models presented as universal and valid, in themselves (ROVERI, 2004, p. 41).

The author is clear as to the fact that the doll instills values and practices in children that are praised in society, sustained in the "adult-centric" models. It would appear that, in the pages of the book, the model of beauty and the esthetic standards of young women and adults are appropriated and reconstructed to establish esthetic practices and representations of the body.And, in the imaginary childhood of girls, they imprint lifestyles directed at the consumption of beauty goods and products - creams, makeup, shampoos, athletics practices, suitable clothing for the occasions and situations experienced by girls.

In general, the booklet Dicas de beleza da Barbie (ARIELLO, 2007), while print media and mediated resources used it for publicity, is aimed at already literate children. Eight-year-old girls, therefore, have contact with this type of material and, from it, begin a process of practices aimed at beauty in order to reach the esthetic precepts outlined by the Barbie doll.

The visual appeal is clear in the design of the book. Several shades of pink compose the main color pallet used in the visual work and the dialogues found on the pages. All the tips are printed in pink, as well as the representations that show how to deal with female work and that describe femininity. Additionally, the image of the Barbie doll is on nearly every page of the booklet, except for the hair tips.

For Arend (2012), it was after the Second World War that the color pink acquired meaning as the shade for the female gender, across time until today. Two elements in the book get attention: the use of the color pink and the format of the narrative. The narrative strategy of speaking with the reader as if she were "intimate" and close is the same as is used in women's newspapers and magazines since the 19th century. It is based on a conversational tone between the writer and the reader. Barbie is presented as someone close who "advises, supports, placates doubts, suggests, sometimes becoming a friend and companion whom one can always turn to" (LUCA, 2012, p. 448).

Thus, Barbie communicates with girls, speaking to them with all the colors and words: your world is pink and from now on, you are ugly only if you want to, because I will tell you everything that you want to know and I will deal with all the questions for everyone to identify and consider you a pretty girl. Reproducing the narrative of the book,

Now, there are many other things that you can do to be even more beautiful: take care of your hair, your skin, your body and always be ready to rock. In this book, there are several tips to highlight your beauty. But, to get everything right, if you have questions or do not know exactly what to do, talk with an adult, OK? Being pretty is easier than it seems... Try my tips in this book, and get ready to be a real Barbie Girl! (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 4)

"Being pretty is easier than it seems" and I, Barbie, will show the way, through my tips. The method developed is to bring the girl to look at herself and to identify the "problems" with her appearance. She should ask herself: what do I need to improve in myself? The scheme of self-analysis, related to esthetics, appears in the first pages of the book:

Many people ask me what I do to be pretty and what my beauty secrets are. The first trick for being pretty is simple: be happy! When we are at ease with life, we are bright and wonderful . . . (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 4).

To be beautiful is to be admired and happy, that is the message given to the girls. To be happy is to go shopping, remembers Sant'Anna (2008, p. 58):

The consumer society has received growing importance since the 20th century, mainly when advertising gave way to publicity and the individual body came to be seen as the place where our main anxieties and our greatest pleasures came from.

There seems to be no doubt as to the placement of the value of beauty in the subjectivities of girls. Anxieties and pleasures are being addressed and determined by consumption, synonymous with beauty and happiness.

The idea of beauty is based on the following thematic axes: hair, makeup, skin, body, feet, hands and scents. Every subject is treated in, approximately, four pages in which the Barbie doll herself speaks with the readers showing the steps that they should take to become "Barbie Girls". For example, "After the bath, always use a moisturizer on your skin", "Take advantage while you are young to develop a taste for exercise" (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 18, 20).

On the beauty horizon, care in the present and in youth consists of a way to slow down future aging. Anxieties and fears become discursive strategies for immediate actions to hold back time. The beautification practices proposed by the doll put girls on par with young women and ladies. Physical exercise, concerns with hair cuts matched to their types of faces, creams matched to skintype, shampoos and hair products and makeup according to the biotype, conform to the written and visual narratives, having the notion of beauty in sight.

For the dialogue with the girls, the "tests" constitute the mechanism for identifying the types of skin and hair, with a view to an intervention based on acquiring the ideal product to solve the "problem".

In this aspect, the item "doll skin" gets the following explanation: if the result of the "test" shows most of the responses are "a", identifying "dry skin", it is prescribed that "whoever has this type of skin must take care in the sun and treat it every day with good moisturizers and sun block. Use creamy liquid soaps that soften the skin" (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 14). The same scheme is used to talk about normal, oily and combination skins.

In relation to physical exercise, the tip is "do it". To encourage girls to join sports, it is stated: "Take advantage while you are young to develop a taste for exercise. So, when you are older, you won't have to force yourself to join a gym" (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 20).

Regarding the benefits of exercise, it is stated that it "leaves the body more beautiful; helps to improve circulation; helps with weight loss; releases hormones that make us happier and more satisfied" (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 21). In the lines and between the lines, the message is: exercise to be thin and happy.

The understanding of the tips involves the changes seen in the 1960s, when care of the skin, face and hair intensified, impressing conduct and behavior on the female segments of the consumer market. Sant'Anna (1995) asserts that washing the hair began to happen regularly. Facial care also increased, which should be washed several times a day, in addition to the constant use of creams and lotions. These, and other, suggestions are found in the pages of women's magazines.

The pedagogy of the conduct expressed by the beauty methods is affirmed and internalized: each beauty method tends to be considered repressive if it doesn't bring physical satisfaction, superficial if it doesn't respond to intimate desires, scarcely believable if it doesn't evoke the singular truth of every woman (SANT'ANNA, 1995, p. 136).

The author clearly states that beauty became pedagogy of the conduct, through its internalization and validation, something that generates pleasure. Thus, true beauty came to encompass methods, accessories and needs beyond natural beauty. Altogether, "natural beauty" began to demand cosmetic, medical and esthetic resources in order to emphasize the naturalness, the lightness and the health of women.

In the case of Dicas de beleza da Barbie, what can be called novelty is the expansion of the conduct of girls' beauty. As found in one of the pages of the book, "Don't use your mother's or your older sister's products. Find out what your type of skin is, and buy what is best for you" (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 18).

In another section, Barbie says: "Better than having hair 'in fashion' is to have a cut that leaves you prettier and with personality" (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 9). Beauty relates to personality and each one can search for and find hers. Just like women - young and adult - girls came to be responsible for their appearance. They became invested, thus, in the idea that the market of goods and products is plentyfull and each one can choose and dress her personality (SANT'ANNA 2008).

It is important to remember that, for Sant'Anna (2012), publicity and scientific advances end up identifying people, who do not develop certain specific "care" with the body - considered essential by them -,as unconcerned with their appearance and having low self-esteem.

There is a normative prescription that makes each individual search for an ideal body and appearance. In the culture of appearance, esthetic surgery, diets, artificial treatments and cosmetics should be used to obtain the ideal image and body. Otherwise, people will be seen as unmotivated, careless and sick, excluded from the propagated beauty standard.

In the scrutiny of appearance that guides the book, the prescriptions take multiple directions and produce several meanings. To get beautiful hair, the girl is guided to wash it in lukewarm water and use specific products; to not make mistakes with makeup, the girl must use it the way that Barbie explains; to remain beautiful and slender, she must exercise and go to the gym; finally, the tips are distinguished by the "beauty and prettiness" from the perspective of the Barbie doll.

The use of makeup by children grows daily. The means of communication found a strong candidate in children for the consumption of beautification practices. The pages of the booklet dedicated to makeup are titled "Colors and Sparkles" (ARIELLO, 2007, p. 16-17). Barbie indicates which cosmetics are appropriate for eyelashes, mouth, cheeks and eyes. Such tips guarantee the girls a "beautiful appearance", according to the doll's style.

Barbie suggests, in this section, the use of makeup only to highlight the beauty of the girl. The doll gives tips for the eyes, cheeks and mouth, in order to instill a model of the female face that is beautiful and that gets people's attention. Thus, along with the other tips, the makeup suggested also reaffirms Barbie's standard of beauty.

The message is: girls, enter the consumer market; join the women of the 21st century and do everything to be beautiful and happy. If these women look for esthetic procedures, diets and gyms to create bodily appearances, which represent the standard of the thin, tall, blond and "supercharged" woman, Barbie and her tips transform the guidelines on values and behavior for girls to acquire the slender body and have the appearance of beautiful and happy girls.

According to Sant'Anna (2012, p. 124),

It seems that the body became the center of a type of permanent combat in which allies and enemies are hardly distinguished. Whoever is not fighting, whoever deserts this physiological field, expresses weakness, shows the worst cowardice, therefore deserves contempt. The lack of beauty would thus show another problem, a greater one. Therefore, as in various battles, the ways of fighting are less important than the courage to fight them. Not by chance, everything is worth: surgery, facial filling, laser rejuvenation, tanning, bleaching, but also sticking to various types of fashion, or anti-fashion

The girls are summoned, early on, to enter into the fight against aging. They appear to be responding in a satisfactory way to the requests of the consumer market. In recent years, one of the largest-growing sectors was child-adolescent fashion. Clothes, creams, shampoos and cosmetics for young girls are revealing the effects of the market of ever-growing needs that accompany the consumer industry.

For these reasons, we agree with O'Sickey (2002, p. 33-34) in affirming that Barbie reproduces a particular stereotype of femininity, "aimed at training girls to become perfect consumers of beauty products". Thus, as adults, the girls/women will be ready to reproduce stereotyped models of beauty.

In general, the same argument is present in the reflections of Guizzo (2012, p. 113, translation ours):

girls, as small women, soon become obsessed with having a "perfect" body. Girls engage in practices intended to hide their flaws. However, these concerns should not be seen as a natural way of thinking of women. These need to be understood as part of a historical, social and cultural process of the system of relations.

In her observations, the author found that girls between 5 and 6 years go to school using makeup and clothing extremely similar to that used by adults. In addition, they were engaged, during recess periods, in activities involving makeup and combing their hair. They did not admit that the use of shoes affording them short stature, such as sneakers and other footwear appropriate for their age, have any part in the day-to-day lives of girls (GUIZZO, 2012).

The releases for children,from the cosmetic and perfume industries, may be taken as examples of the role that Barbie's Beauty Tips have in girls' construction of femininity by way of consumer products for esthetics. The Barbie makeup kits released for girls, by various cosmetics companies, and the perfume lines of Avon and the Brazilian Natura and O Boticário, are significant of the conception of the market of children's needs in the manufacture of the scents and colors of fashion. Thus, the girls follow the beauty tips that the booklet offers and acquire the makeup kit in order to put the doll's tips into practice in everyday life.

Final considerations

The relationship between consumption and beautification practices, as the axes of the children's fashion market was cleart hroughout this text. Through analysis of Barbie's Beauty Tips, the paths taken by the concept of children's beauty was assessed; as was knowledge of how the models of beauty and femininity were appropriated by children's fashion, to advance the market of goods and products - clothes, cosmetics, perfumes and shampoos for girls.

We consider, therefore, that the tips establish beauty practices that influence and produce circular notions of beauty and femininity, which reinforce female stereotypes, spreading beliefs that to be beautiful - according to the standard - is to be happy. It is these beliefs that have changed leisure consumption, for example, visits to malls and beauty salons. With these changes in the behavior of girls, new lifestyles emerge and the school becomes a stage of contention between girls. Beauty and the valuing of appearance acquire the status of a passport to success and happiness.


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Received: August 2014; Accepted: November 2014

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