Intercom Online......September 14, 2000

Altoona launches semester-long exploration
of Barbie's strong role in American culture

The Barbie doll: She's been a part of American culture since her debut at the Annual Toy Fair in New York in 1959 and has been a favorite among young girls throughout the decades. But Barbie's long-standing popularity also raises issues about body image, popular culture and other issues related to women's health.

Throughout the fall semester, Penn State Altoona will explore Barbie's influence on topics related to women's and girls' physical and mental health, including eating disorders, depression and body image.

This semester-long event -- known as Barbie 2000 -- also will examine the influence of popular culture on art, literature and society. Through exhibits, interactive theater productions, health screenings, book displays, panel discussions and other events, students, faculty and staff at Penn State Altoona will explore the issues that relate to Barbie from many angles.

"The idea is to have a semester-long discussion of the various issues raised by Barbie and by her long-standing popularity," said Dinty W. Moore, professor of English and co-coordinator of Penn State Altoona's new integrative arts degree. "We welcome critical comments and supportive comments. We will be having some fun, but also looking at some serious issues."

Barbie 2000 is an academic investigation of Barbie's iconic role in American culture and disturbing questions occasionally will be raised about women's physical and psychological health, gender roles and gender expectations. It is important to note for parents that many of the presentations and discussions will not be suitable for children.

For more information about the series, call (814) 949-5105.

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