Happy 100th Anniversary, Girl Scouts!

Today marks 100 years since Juliette Gordon Low assembled eighteen girls and started the first Girl Scout troop in Savannah, Georgia.  She believed that all girls should be given the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. With the goal of bringing girls out of isolated home environments and into community service and the open air, Girl Scouts hiked, played basketball, went on camping trips, learned how to tell time by the stars, and studied first aid, which they still do today.

I know many people think that all the Girl Scouts do is sell cookies. While Girl Scout cookies are a major part of the organization, there’s more to it than just Thin Mints and Samoas (a.k.a. Caramel DeLites!) Did you know that…

*Ten of seventeen women (59 percent)in the United States Senate are former Girl Scouts?


*Forty-five of seventy-five women (60 percent)in the House of Representatives are former Girl Scouts?


*Fifty-three percent of all women business owners are former Girl Scouts?


*Seventy-six percent of all Girl Scout alumnae reportthat Girl Scouts had a positive impact on their lives?


*Girl Scouts was founded “for all the girls” and as early as 1917 had troops for physically disabled girls? There are also records of African-American troops in New York in the 1920s; American Indian and Asian troops as early as the 1930s and 1940s; as well as a continuing history of innovative special projects involving underserved populations such as migrant girls, Mexican-American girls, girls in the inner-city, girls in rural areas, girls with mothers in prison, girls in Head Start programs.

*The first sale of commercially-baked Girl Scout Cookies took place in the Philadelphia council in 1936? Participating in the cookie sale teaches a girl important life skills such as the importance of organization and the need to be responsible.

*During both World War I and World War II, Girl Scouts served their country on the home front collecting waste fat and scrap iron, growing Victory Gardens, and selling defense bonds? During that time, special programs on seafaring and aviation, called Mariner Girl Scouts and Wing Girl Scouts were developed for Senior Girl Scouts.

*Caring for the environment has always been part of Girl Scout program? Early handbooks contained information on conserving materials and protecting nature. In 1945, the first Lou Henry Hoover Memorial Forest, was dedicated by Girl Scouts in honor of their twice former President and later honorary president. In 1970, Eco- Action, a nationwide environmental education and improvement program, began. In 1992, GSUSA launched a nationwide environmental service project known as Girl Scouts Care for the Earth.

*The Contemporary Issues series was developed in the 1980s to help girls and their families deal with serious social issues? The first, Tune In to Well Being, Say No to Drugs, was introduced in collaboration with a project initiated by First Lady Nancy Reagan. Subsequent publications dealt with issues such as child abuse, youth suicide, literacy, and pluralism.


*Girl Scouts inaugurated a health and fitness national service project, Be Your Best, to promote different ways of being healthy, keeping fit, and eating right in 1992?


*In 2011, GSUSA introduced a financial literacy program for all levels of Girl Scouts?

Isn’t that cool? Girl Scouts of the USA is the largest organization for women and girls today, and has some pretty neat alumnae as well: Katie Couric, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Sandra Day O’Connor, Hillary Rodham-Clinton, Lucielle Ball, Gloria Steinem and more! How many of you LivLunatics were Girl Scouts? Did any of you earn your Gold Award?


Happy Birthday, Barbie! Why We Love & Hate Her

Today is Barbie’s “birthday!” The doll is celebrating its fifty-third anniversary of her debut at the World’s Toy Fair in New York city.  Barbie’s goal was to be different from other dolls of the time, who were usually baby dolls or paper dolls. Creator Ruth Handler drew inspiration from the German fashion doll “Bild Lilli,” who had a more womanly body and could be played with better than a paper doll. Although Barbie started off as a “teen-age fashion model,” she eventually became a career woman, spending time as an astronaut, teacher, rock star, doctor, paratrooper, flight attendant, lifeguard, computer engineer, Canadian mountie and McDonald’s cashier. Barbie is not just a fashion doll, but “aspiration figure,” although it can be argued that some of Barbie’s careers could send the wrong message–that girls shouldn’t aspire to have just a career, but aspire to some of the more material things in life–the “Barbie and the Rockers” line from 1986 was designed to directly compete with Hasbro’s insanely popular “Jem and the Holograms” franchise. (Fun fact: the Jem cartoon was solely created to help sell the dolls.) In 1992, “Teen Talk Barbie” was released, with the doll sprouting such phrases as “math class is tough,” “do you have a crush on anybody? (keep in mind, the doll was marketed at children, not teenagers,)” and “party dresses are fun!” While are party dresses are fun, many felt that the doll shouldn’t have been sprouting negative stereotypes (“math class is tough!”) the doll should have been more encouraging. The controversy was so big, it was even spoofed in The Simpsons fifth season episode “Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy.”


The biggest controversy regarding Barbie, however, is with her unrealistic body measurements. A standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches tall, giving a height of 5 feet 9 inches at 1/6 scale. Barbie’s vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. She would also have to walk on all fours due to her proportions. At first, Mattel claimed that Barbie’s waist was so tiny due to the bulk of snaps and zippers on the fashions, but in 1997, they widened her waist to accommodate modern fashions, although some argue that Mattel has gone against that with their line of collectable Silkstone dolls, created to look like the Barbies of the early sixties. Barbie has also had it’s blunders in regard to race; with many pointing out that the ethnic Barbies are nothing more than white dolls painted a different color and given a different hair texture, and thus, creating an even more unrealistic image for little girls to try and live up to.
Now, I personally love Barbie for the kitsch value. When I was little, I got my sister’s dolls from the eighties–big hair, crazy blue eye shadow, giant ballgowns, the works. I’m now a collector of sixties-era Barbie stuff. But that being said, I’m also aware of how the “teen-age” fashion model could have a negative effect on one’s body image and other aspirations. I’m not going to lie, I secretly hoped that I would grow up to have Barbie’s insane figure. But at the same time, I also find Barbie to be a great way to express imagination. My friends and I had Barbie doing many things outside of her assigned careers–we once staged our own sequel to Grease, where Danny Zuko came back from Vietnam without his left arm, we played fashion show, we played high school, murder mystery. Could we have done it without Barbie? Absolutely. But somehow, it was just a little more glamorous using Barbie rather than Power Ranger action figures.

So, LivLunatics, what do you think? Were (are) you pro or anti Barbie? Did she have an impact on your body image?