Barbie Is Turning 58 And Has Finally Achieved Much-Needed Change

Barbie Is Turning 58 And Has Finally Achieved Much-Needed Change

"Beauty is being you" — Barbie
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On March 9, 1959, Mattel released its first Barbie doll, which would become an iconic product and a memorable item in the childhoods of many young girls throughout the country (and around the world). In today's society, as the doll turns 58 years old on March 9, 2018, it still continues to be an iconic item in American culture.

The first Barbie doll was portrayed as a teenage fashion model.

When the Barbie doll was first released, her full name was Barbie Millicent Roberts, and she represented the glamorous Old Hollywood style of the time (source).

The Christie Doll was released in 1969.

This was the first African-American doll released by Mattel, and many subsequent releases by Mattel included both the Barbie and Christie dolls (source).

The "Day to Night" Doll was released in the 1980s.

This Barbie doll had a business outfit, along with a briefcase, to be worn during the day at her job as an executive of a company, and a date night outfit to be worn for night life in the city. This doll was an attempt to promote women's equality in the workplace (source).

Entrepreneur Barbie Dolls were released in 2014.

In 2014, the Entrepreneur Barbie Dolls were released to further encourage the ambition of young girls everywhere (source).

These dolls, complete with their own smartphone, were released to further encourage the ambition of young girls everywhere. This doll was even backed by several real-life women entrepreneurs (source).

However, despite these advances that have been made throughout the years, Barbie has, of course, been criticized for creating unrealistic body image expectations for young girls, which subsequently relates to self-esteem issues found in many young women. Various dolls that have been released over the years have experienced their fair share of failures, mistakes, and criticisms.

A talking Barbie Doll was released in 1992 - and needed some improvement.

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Mattel released a talking Barbie doll with several different phrases that it was programmed to say. However, it was criticized for one of its phrases, "Math is tough," which was perceived to reinforce gender stereotypes to young girls. Mattel eventually removed this phrase from the talking Barbie dolls as a result of the criticism that it received (source).

The first handicapped Barbie doll was not met with great enthusiasm.

Handicapped Barbie Doll

"Share A Smile Becky," Mattel's first handicapped Barbie doll, was released in 2013, but was ultimately pulled from the shelves due to criticism of the fact that the wheelchair couldn't fit into the Barbie Dream House elevators or any of the Barbie cars (source).

Finally, #TheDollEvolves Campaign brings much needed improvement to Mattel's Barbie products.



Despite the challenges and failures faced by Mattel and its Barbie doll products throughout years, the company's #TheDollEvolves campaign, which was launched in 2016, will change the iconic figure forever. Barbie dolls can now be found with 4 different body types, from tall to petite to curvy, 7 different skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 different hair styles, and endless outfit options (source).

Finally, as the doll turns 58 years old this month, in which the celebration of Women's History Month also takes place in the United States, young girls will no longer receive the message that they need to conform to a certain look to be beautiful. Now, each girl will be able to find a Barbie that sends a message that their uniqueness and individuality is what makes them beautiful. This is an innovation that has been long awaited, well received, and may improve the future of Barbie.

Cover Image Credit: Barbie on Facebook

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5 Companies That Still Use Slave Labor

Let's talk about the modern slave trade.
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Growing up in a country where freedom is always a right and expectation — whether you live in the United States or one of the other 86 "free" countries — it is easy to believe that, compared to the well-known 1800s slave trade, we are doing pretty well when it comes to civil liberties, freedom, and overall social welfare. Documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) have been approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, meaning that the vast majority of nations have agreed that every individual has the right to basic human dignity.

Despite this significant progress, however, there are 45.8 million people enslaved today, more than any other time in world history. The United States Department of Homeland Security has launched the Blue Campaign in light of this growing industry, hoping to raise awareness of the human trafficking that persists in local communities. Additionally, you can watch this video for a summary on the Global Slavery pandemic. I will write about the problem of human trafficking in the United States on another day; however, global slavery affects us whether it is in our city or halfway around the world. In fact, companies that you purchase from every single day use slave labor for their work instead of paying employees a fair wage.* Don't believe me?

Here are five companies that are using slave labor to make their products TODAY, and where you should shop instead.

Nestle

Nestle is one of the largest companies that has consistently carried out human rights violations all over the world. Not only did they illegally take water from California during the drought in 2015, but in the 1970s they got third-world mothers to use infant formula by selling it at reduced prices, and then when the mothers could no longer breastfeed, they raised the price of formula so much that many children were malnourished and starving.

Their most recent problems revolve around slavery in the cocoa industry. In 2009 several former child slaves sued Nestle because they were trafficked and forced to work on Nestle farms in Cote d'Ivoire. Another suit was filed by former child slaves in 2014, stating that "Studies by International Labour Organization, UNICEF, the Department of State, and numerous other organizations have confirmed that thousands of children are forced to work without pay in the Ivorian economy." In 2016, the Fair Labor Association executed an assessment of Nestle in Cote d'Ivoire. They claimed that 70% of Nestle farms were not trained on the prohibition of forced labor. Further, they stated that "there is no process in place to monitor, report, and remediate cases of forced labor at the farms." With this in mind, they did find evidence of potential forced and uncompensated labor. Additionally, they found evidence of child labor—many of these children never enrolling in school — in which children were getting paid little to nothing, and often working in dangerous conditions.

INSTEAD: buy from Ben & Jerry's or Theo. They will satisfy your sweet tooth and are Fair-Trade guaranteed.

Nike

Nike has REALLY cleaned up their act in the last several years, but with a standard of no slave labor, they still have quite a way to go. In 1992, activist Jeff Ballinger published an exposé in "Harpers" that revealed the story of a child in Indonesia working in disgusting conditions, and for a mere 14 cents per hour (far below the minimum wage in Indonesia at the time).

Since then, Nike has begun to report supply chain information. The most recent report claims that, in 2016, only 86% of their factories were up to the minimum standards they set. Though they give a good indication of how far the company has come, these standards are set by Nike and assessed internally, making it difficult to compare standards to a universal one.

INSTEAD: shop at Patagonia! All products here are Fair Trade Certified!

Starbucks

Starbucks claims a mission for ethical sourcing, meaning their company policy requires them to abide by a standard of "ethical sourcing" that they have created. They only have two Fair-Trade coffees available for purchase. After the development charity Oxfam reported that Starbucks was depriving Ethiopian coffee growers of $90 million every year, Starbucks was challenged by the public eye to “clean up their act,” and did so by creating their own “ethical sourcing” standards, that they implement themselves, and certify 99% of their coffee with. Whether or not these standards are viable, they are not Fair Trade Certified at this time.

The U.S. Department of Labor has a list of locations and goods that use forced and child labor. Starbucks lists coffees from countries such as Guatamala, Kenya, Costa Rica and Panama; however, none of these single-sourced coffees are certified by them as “Fair Trade.” Rather, they are all regions that are known to use child labor.

INSTEAD: buy the Starbucks Italian Roast and Café Estima; they are certified by Fair Trade! You can also order online from Café Justo, Jurang and Equal Exchange —entire companies dedicated to producing Fair Trade coffee.

H&M

A 2016 report stated that as of December 31, 2015, 31 out of 72 H&M suppliers were using illegal contracts. In other words, these contracts allowed for wrongful termination. Now I know what you are thinking: the current system of hiring/firing in the U.S. is full of problems, and it takes way too much work to fire a bad employee in most cases. Well, the situation in countries like Cambodia and India are a little different. Often times, employees of H&M will be forced to work for excessive overtime hours—far beyond the legal limit—with no increase in their weekly take home pay. They are also often working in sweatshop conditions, with no breaks and unsanitary environments. Moreover, the contracts allow the factory to fire a worker for refusing to work these long hours. In fact, a garment worker in Cambodia stated: "We often get sick around once a month. We don’t eat enough and work too much trying to maximize the piece rate. Also, we don’t stop to go to the bathroom. We often work through lunch breaks or go back into work early, so there is hardly any time to rest."

INSTEAD: shop at one of these other retailers that are guaranteed to have fair-trade labor!

Walmart

Well, this one is probably the least suprising yet. According to a 2016 report by the Wage Alliance on Walmart's value chain, Walmart refused to sign the 2013 Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh that 200 companies signed following the collapse of Rana Plaza. It also stated that all 14 factories in Cambodia were studied, and they all violated local overtime laws consistently, with some forcing 14 hour work days without overtime pay "in sweltering heat, without adequate supply of clean drinking water or any breaks." These same conditions were expressed by workers in factories in India, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. The report continued to list countless instances of workers given severely less than they were promised, or even cases where owners of factories fled without paying workers at all.

INSTEAD: OK, I know it's hard to pass up Walmart prices. However, here is a full list of companies that are fair trade. Even if you start small, I know you can find a way to cut back on your slavery footprint! Want to know how many slaves work for you now? Visit the Slavery Footprint mission to find out.

*I use the term “fair wage” because many people who are enslaved are trapped in a cycle of debt bondage. This means that an individual or family works for pennies per hour to pay off an ever-increasing debt. Oftentimes this debt is passed down for generations. To learn more about debt bondage and other forms of slavery, visit the non-profit End Slavery Now, here.

Cover Image Credit: iragelb / Flickr

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6 Eco-Friendly Gifts For The Ones Who’ve Already Stopped Using Plastic Straws

Give a gift that will not be wasted.

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Christmas and the surrounding months are for some people synonymous with shopping and stress over gift giving. If you want to avoid stress, I recommend considering giving practical gifts this season that everyone can use. Personally, I have been trying to be more green and reduce my ecological footprint on the planet by reducing my amount of plastic and waste. This holiday season, I want to encourage my friends and family to also be more green by giving them useful gifts that will also help them reduce their ecological footprint and waste. (You can see what your ecological footprint is here)

1. Stainless steel straws

SENHAI set of 8 stainless steel straws

We heard earlier this year about the high among of plastic, especially plastic straws, in the world's oceans that are harming ocean wildlife. I now carry around a set of steel straws in my purse to use instead of plastic straws. These straws are even dishwasher safe!

Find on Amazon for $8.99

2. Travel coffee mugs

Travel coffee mugs are so much better to use than single use cups because they are sustainable. Plus they keep your coffee warmer longer and don't spill as much. If you bring in your own mug to most coffee places, they will be more than willing to fill it and may even give you a discount. At Starbucks, bring in any reusable coffee mug or tumbler and you will save 10¢!

Find on Amazon for $10.49

3. Reusable water bottles

S'well 15 oz S'ip stainless steel water bottle

Many people worldwide use plastic water bottles with a million bought per minute of which 91% are not recycled. By buying a reusable water bottle, your gift will help save the planet as well as their wallet "with the average American spending over $100 per year / per person."

(S'well water bottles and tumbler not only look good, they also do good with S'well giving back to their partners UNICEF USA, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and RED.)

Amazon for $19.99

4. Reusable shopping bags

BeeGreen foldable reusable grocery bags

Worldwide about one trillion plastic bags are used annually which contributes to the approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic waste that are found in the oceans. Consider helping to cut down on plastic grocery bags by giving reusable shopping bags. (These bags come in packs of 5 with cute prints and even fold up!)

Amazon for $14.55

5. Reusable produce bags

Purifyou reusable mesh produce bags

Another way to cut down on plastic bags is to use reusable produce bags when getting groceries at the store.

Find on Amazon for $14.97

6. Reusable snack bags

Stasher reusable silicone food bag

These not only cut down on plastic bags but are great for students and coworkers who have to pack their lunch!

Find on Amazon for $11.99

My recommendation is to gift several of these as a set or to include one as part of you. You can consider putting your gifts in the reusable bags or even using newspaper (especially the comics section) as gift wrapping to make your gift more unique and reduce waste!

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