FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 26, 2002
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BARBIE DEFINES FEMININITY, SAYS EMU PROFESSOR

From the bouffant hair style and mini skirt to long, sleek tresses and the business suit, Barbie has reflected the latest styles. But she isn't just a plastic doll.

For more than 40 years, Barbie has defined femininity, said Denise Pilato, assistant professor of Eastern Michigan University's Interdisciplinary Studies Department. Pilato's fall 2002 course, "Women and Technology," will feature Barbie as a new perspective on gender roles.

"Barbie is the most recognized technological toy icon in the world," said Pilato. "She's a phenomenon. When we say "Barbie," everyone understands."

Barbie is an example of how a toy can shape values and standards about feminine ideals and how these feminine and masculine roles continue to affect our understanding of technology, she added.

"Initially, she (Barbie) was just a date; now she can be an astronaut," said Pilato. "Toys are technology and how we play is a study in technology."

The course will include the documentary film "Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour" that examines how America's attraction to the doll is worldwide. An "I Love Lucy" show on role reversal, and ads from the 1900s women's magazines featuring cars and home appliances are other examples that will be examined.

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