Debuting in 2009 on TLC, Toddlers and Tiaras focuses on the world of child beauty pageants. It follows young pageant participants and their families as they go through the process of training and competing in local, regional and national pageants. Since its debut, the series has stirred plenty of controversy, with critics accusing pageant parents and organizers of overly sexualizing and exploiting children.
This clip comes from a documentary, produced by the Media Education Foundation, called Tough Guise: Violence, Media & the Crisis in Masculinity. In this segment, educator and scholar Jackson Katz outlines what it means to be a “real man” in contemporary American society. He argues that a focus on being a “tough guy” leads to high rates of violence among men and boys, as well as unproductive relationships and unfulfilled personal lives.
Tasmanian artist Sonia Singh’s Tree Change Dolls are recycled and repaired dolls that are given a makeunder and more down-to-earth style. Singh removes the dolls’ original factory painted features, and repaints the faces so that the dolls look more natural, younger, and down-to-earth, as opposed to the typical style of highly made-up and glamorous dolls like Bratz dolls. Singh’s mother also creates and knits new outfits for the dolls. In January 2015, what started as a home project transformed into an Internet sensation once she posted before and after photos of her dolls online, garnering attention from media and people around the world who supported her efforts to recycle and makeunder the dolls, and wanted to know where and how they could purchase them.
This advertisement from GoldieBlox, a company that makes engineering toys for girls, makes you think about the gender of heroes in popular stories. The video reimagines scenes from famous movies and television shows such as The Matrix, Back to the Future, Rocky, Star Trek: The Next Generation, ET, Braveheart, and Pirates of the Caribbean, replacing the male leads with Goldie Blox and Ruby Rails action figures as the heroes of these well-known popular culture action stories. Goldie Blox is the main animated character for the girls engineering toys company, and Ruby Rails, named after the web application framework, is Goldie’s tech-saavy, coder, software engineer best friend. Interspersed between the reimagined movie and tv scenes, the video shows statistics from research studies about inequities of representation in Hollywood, such as “Only 1% of popular films star women of color,” “Only 12% of lead film characters are women,” and “Men get twice as much screen time as women.” Near the end, the video states, “All girls deserve to see themselves as heroes…we need more heroes, share this with yours.”