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15-Year-Old Girl Pretends to Be a Doll

15-Year-Old Girl Pretends to Be a Doll

I recently read this article about a 15-year-old girl named Venus Palermo who makes YouTube videos in which she pretends to be a doll. She dresses in childlike clothing, does her hair and makeup in such a way that she looks, well, doll-like, and speaks in a high-pitched child’s voice. In her videos, she moves and behaves like a battery-powered doll.

To me, this is unsettling on many levels. Venus’s critics argue that she is promoting the stereotype of the sexy, naive girl that is often seen in anime and manga – which supposedly were among her influences. Of course, this seems true, but it is not beneficial to criticize Venus herself. Yes, she may contribute to negative stereotypes about girls and women – but she is a victim of those stereotypes, as well.

Throughout history, women have been objectified, and our contemporary media continues the practice. Women are portrayed as something to look at. I took an art history class in college that examined classical works from a feminist perspective (needless to say, it was fascinating). Many of the women portrayed in the paintings were sitting or lying in sensual positions, looking directly at the audience – keenly aware that they were being watched. Men, however, were routinely portrayed as being very active.

And of course, the same can be said of the portrayals of women and men in magazines and on television today. Women are supposed to be pleasing to watch and look at. And many women are affected by this way of thinking so deeply that their daily lives become performances. They alter their appearances, voices, and behavioral habits in order to play the role of the appealing woman. And what do we get when we treat women this way? Venus Palermo.

Venus’s videos are disturbing on another level, as well. Children and adolescents today live their lives as if they are constantly on stage. This is a new and troubling phenomenon. With Facebook, Twitter, texting, YouTube, and the like,. young people today are never unplugged. Unless they turn off their computers and cell phones – which I would gamble few of them do – they are always being watched, in a sense.

Young people, therefore, are being conditioned to put on a show for their friends – all the time. Everything they do is photographed and talked about online. And while this is true to an extent for adults, it is much more intense for young people, who are pressured socially to keep up with the latest technologies and who are perhaps more likely to take out their insecurities on their classmates. When I was in school, I could go home and escape the hurtful things classmates would sometimes say to me. But that is not the case with young people now. When they go home, they are still plugged in.

So the pressure to perform to win the approval of men, which girls and women have been subject to for a very long time, is now exacerbated by the fact that young people are, indeed, living their lives before a (virtual) audience. New technologies can be wonderful and may have many advantages. However, it is important that we teach our girls how to use those technologies in ways that do not make them feel as if they are always being judged. If they are to grow into empowered women, girls must be taught that it is safe to be who they are – even if the world is watching.

 

 

 

Related:
And What is the Deal With the Princess Thing?
Baby Mama: Do Children Need a Doll That Gives Birth?
Are Your Daughters Too Pretty To Do Their Homework?

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

107 comments

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7:12AM PST on Nov 16, 2012

Do me a favor and keep your politics out of my art appreciation.

And to me, that's exactly what this girl is doing. This is her form of expression. Who the hell am I to criticize it?

10:13AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

Thank you.

8:01AM PDT on Oct 27, 2012

interesting take but i feel she is exercising her artistic expression

6:40AM PDT on Oct 23, 2012

Haven't seen the videos, so maybe I shouldn't say anything, but from the description of the content in the videos, sounds like social commentary in the form of artistic expression to me. Very effective, if, as the author states, Venus allows viewers to make their own conclusions on what it is she is doing.

10:21PM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

I think the videos are meant to be fun. There are dolls in real life, so why not try to pretend to be one? I don't see why stereotypes have to be brought into this.

7:17PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

It's weird but if it's not hurting anyone, than it's no one's place to judge.

6:55AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Girls need to wake up and get themselves out of these stupid stereotypes.

4:38AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

oh. you know what would be amazing
if she also made 90% of her clothing. and not buy it.

makes me want to be able to sew frilly froofroos and get money from her.

the dresses on this one site are not that expensive. some denim jeans are alredy $80. so $75 for a dress is not bad

9:55PM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

interesting! this is the first i've heard of this....

3:44PM PDT on Oct 17, 2012

her family travled and lived in many countries before. she had to know all the languages unless they took some crazy vacations "I went on vacation and spent 3 years in France then a month in Russia and was born in Austria and now live in Canada"

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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