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CC Professor Derides Sports Illustrated, Barbie Doll Connection

Tomi-Ann Roberts Argues Against Objectification of Women

CC Professor Derides Sports Illustrated, Barbie Doll Connection

CC Psychology Professor Tomi-Ann Roberts has co-authored an article titled “Barbie as a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model? Our Girls (and Boys) Deserve Better.”

The article, on the Psychology Benefits Society blog, criticizes both Mattel, creator of the Barbie doll, and Sports Illustrated, saying “Barbie and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue complement each other, in that Barbie teaches girls at a very young age that beauty, fashion, and thinness amount to what’s important for women.  SI teaches adolescent (and younger) boys the same thing: that it is ok to ogle a woman and that sexual titillation and gratification is actually what women are for.  This pairing is especially insidious because the damaging messages for girls and boys match up so seamlessly.”

The article argues that objectification does not equal empowerment, and concludes with a “What Can You Do?” section that includes suggestions such as calling on Mattel to develop new dolls with realistic body proportions and focusing on action rather than appearance, and demanding that Sport Illustrated balance their objectifying portrayals of women in the swimsuit issue by featuring more female athletes the rest of the year.

Roberts co-authored the piece with Eileen Zurbriggen, psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The two also co-authored the book “The Sexualization of Girls and Girlhood: Causes, Consequences and Resistance,” published in 2012 by Oxford University Press. Roberts started at Colorado College in 1993 and her areas of research interest include the social psychology of emotion, gender, and the body; psychological consequences of the sexual objectification of women and girls; and issues of embodiment and reproductive health.