Anthropomorphized on the Silver Screen

shutterstock_36389743The amount of time that children spend in front of  the TV may shock you. The average American child “has ‘spent the equivalent of three years in the tutelage of the family television set’ by the time they reach first grade” (1). While the average Australian child watches 17.5 hours of television each week, 20% of Australian children actually watch more than 30 hours a week, and the average child in the UK watches 17 hours a week (2).

Because Television and Movies influence children’s concept of reality and the roles children think of as natural, and because Mattel is preparing to anthropomorphize Barbie, on the silver screen, we’re looking back at recent girls’ movies and asking people to identify how they feel about the messages these films are conveying to girls (3). We’re asking them to identify healthy and unhealthy examples of modeling and messaging and encouraging them to contribute their thoughts on the films as a whole.

Barbie’s messaging matters because of her target audience and the range of her influence. The average three to ten year old American girl owns ten Barbie dolls (4). Barbie’s position as the number one girls property in the entire toy industry is indicative of her appeal to young girls and the influence she has over them.

We’re also surveying parents to answer the questions: What would you like your daughter’s favorite movie to teach her? What ideas and concepts would you like girls’ favorite movies to instill and inspire? What obstacles and threats to childhood do you think girls’ movies could help tackle?

If you’re a parent of a girl under the age of 18 you can take our parent survey:

Not a parent? That’s okay. We’re also surveying the rest of the real world population to find out what threats to girlhood you think girls’ movies could help tackle. You can share your thought contributions by taking our survey:

Stay tuned for research updates.


1. Sharon Beder, This Little Kiddy Went to Market, p. 8

2.Sharon Beder, This Little Kiddy Went to Market, p. 8

3. Michael Fleming and Marc Graser, “Barbie’s a living doll at Universal,” Variety, Sep. 23 2009.

4. Steven C. Dubin, “Who’s That Girl: The World of Barbie Deconstructed,”  in The Barbie Chronicles, ed. Yona Zeldis McDonough, pg. 20.

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