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  • Writer's pictureCheryl Rodgers

BARBIE... by Artist Dr Cheryl Rodgers

Updated: Feb 21

Barbie. The stuff of cult, for sure. The stuff of icons. And that all rests mostly on two things  - bonkers feet  - and pink.

The movie was the highest-grossing release of 2023. (No jokes about the gross, please!) And just in case you didn’t realise, for some Barbie is apparently a symbol of confidence and empowerment for women. She is wealthy with a diverse résumé including model, surgeon, pilot, firefighter, journalist or entrepreneur. On the other hand she is controversial due to the ‘unrealistic body standards’ that she, well, embodies! Back to the bonkers feet (etc). (Interesting to note, by the way, that new curvy Barbie did not go down so well either!) But wherever you stand politically or philosophically or even ethically on Barbie - you have to admit, she made it.

But what is really great to me is, of course, the overwhelming, unashamed, almost universality of the pink! Barbie Pink  - PANTONE 219 C. Love it. The distinctive Barbie pink colour (Pantone designed it for Mattel in 2011) is central to the brand's identity. This shade of pink apparently invokes ‘feminine glamour and nostalgia.’

But pink, as I am sure you know, has a complicated gender history - it used to be for boys!..? Baby boys that is. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that pink became girls and blue became boys. And then we all went unisex colours apparently. Now, anything goes. But Barbie remains pink through it all. And remember she’s a grown-up, not a baby - an important point in the gender/age politics of the toy world.

Well for me, it just became an excuse to indulge my love of colour and (almost) monochrome painting -  let’s face it a metre square canvas of Pantone 19C would possibly be quite boring… so with artistic license, I just enjoyed pink!

I also learned that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in their 2011 exhibition of 'California mid-century modern design’ included both a recreation of the Eames house living room and a Barbie dream house. So here is my Barbie painting being viewed by my Eames bird… I wonder what Ray would have made of it…

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