When he wrote 1984, George Orwell terrified readers with his depiction of a dystopian future where everyone was the same. Individualism was non-existent and Big Brother was always watching, making sure that everything was in order and no one was resisting.
Since its first appearance in the novel published in 1949, the term “thoughtcrime”, a term meaning radical thinking that challenges status quo, has been applied to many social movements and has even been used in advertisements. In the year 1984, Apple mirrored the concept of a thoughtcrime in their ad for the first ever Macintosh computer. Since then, 1984 hasn’t been recreated in an advertisement- until just a few days ago.
GoldieBlox, a feminist company aimed at getting girls involved in math, science, and engineering, created a commercial depicting the familiar scenario. The commercial, aptly titled “GoldieBlox vs. Big Sister“ opens with Big Sister herself, uttering repeatedly “You are beauty and beauty is perfection”. Little girls wearing pink glitter heels and pink fur shawls walk in a uniform line next to a conveyor belt, picking up Barbie dolls as they are being made. Then, amidst a sea of pink, a young girl wearing overalls and red Converse steps out of the line and approaches the conveyor control panel. With a hammer in her hand, she shuts down the program and smashes the screen where Big Sister appears while her peers fling off their glitter heels and rejoice. The commercial was originally intended to advertise a new action figure for girls, a poseable more realistic looking girl with tools, but also provides a talking point about beauty standards and the pressures that girls face.
Girls and women face extreme pressure to conform to the beauty standards set by the media. When media portrays beauty as a narrowly defined concept, with criteria that no real person can fit, it creates a dangerous construct. While media is heavily to blame for these types of standards, other things, such as dolls, play a role in the formation of these standards– Barbie being one of the biggest offenders. Although in the past Barbie was known for her many careers including astronaut and doctor, in recent years she has become less progressive. Since their beginning, Barbie dolls unrealistically portray female body style and have no variation or diversity in size, making it hard for younger girls to see that there isn’t just one body style that is beautiful.
GoldieBlox and the new action figure they have created will change the way that girls play with toys. Instead of playing with dolls that help form negative body image, GoldieBlox is making a toy that is fun and encouraging. By labeling the new toy as an action figure instead of a doll, as well as portraying a more realistic body style, the new GoldieBlox toy line has a lot of promise in helping girls form a healthy body image and a greater confidence in their own abilities. Even though the world isn’t exactly as Orwell foretold, the influences of culture, government, and society still dictate how we act. Norms and societal standards that surround beauty are defining how we act, think, and behave, harming girls and women by pressuring them into conformity. Being outcast for thinking differently is all too common, but all it takes is one person, even one company, who is willing to commit a “thoughtcrime” to change the way we define beauty.
Madeline Gallegos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.