How Barbie Conquered Shanghai

On Friday, March 6, Mattel is opening a six-story, 38,000-sq.-ft. Barbie superstore in Shanghai. "The plan," according to GlobalPost, "is to turn America's favorite doll into fashion fodder for China's upwardly mobile, trend-setting elite." Will a plastic blonde with a dreamhouse really capture the hearts of Chinese yuppies?


With sales slumping stateside, Mattel is eyeing that nation of 1.5 billion customers in efforts to ride out the recession. So while Barack Obama is moving the United States to the left, American capitalism appears to be strengthening its grip farther east. In addition to lots of dolls, the boutique will feature a hair salon, a bar and a $15,000, adult-sized Vera Wang gown.

"By moving up-market and focusing on Barbie-branded merchandise, the company hopes to widen profit margins and attract a new demographic: Chinese women," explains GlobalPost's Emily Rauhala. Barbie is about to turn 50 years old, and the iconic doll's "made-in-China makeover" is part of a push to re-brand the little hottie before she has a midlife crisis.

Reactions are mixed among Chinese women--some embrace the new blonde princess, others prefer dolls with Chinese features. Rauhala quotes Xiaoming Ai, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University, who says brands that target women often push a “discourse of modernity” that commercializes the female body. Advertisers urge women to spend their way to a perfect form, while analysts say a lack of public discussion on sex and gender here makes it hard for alternative perspectives on femininity to emerge."

Either way, Professor Ai is not focusing that much time on battling Barbie. "She has other concerns, says Rauhala, such as domestic violence, sexual assault and the broader fight for civil and human rights in China."

How Pete Holmes creates comedic flow: Try micro-visualization

Setting a simple intention and coming prepared can help you — and those around you — win big.

Videos
  • Setting an intention doesn't have to be complicated, and it can make a great difference when you're hoping for a specific outcome.
  • When comedian Pete Holmes is preparing to record an episode of his podcast, "You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes," he takes 15 seconds to check in with himself. This way, he's primed with his own material and can help guests feel safe and comfortable to share theirs, as well.
  • Taking time to visualize your goal for whatever you've set out to do can help you, your colleagues, and your projects succeed.
Keep reading Show less

Brazil's Amazon fires: How they started, and how you can help.

The Amazon Rainforest is often called "the planet's lungs."

NASA
Politics & Current Affairs
  • For weeks, fires have been burning in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, likely started by farmers and ranchers.
  • Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has blamed NGOs for starting the flames, offering no evidence to support the claim.
  • There are small steps you can take to help curb deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, which produces about 20 percent of the world's oxygen.
Keep reading Show less

Bigotry and hate are more linked to mass shootings than mental illness, experts say

How do we combat the roots of these hateful forces?

Photo credit: Rux Centea on Unsplash
Politics & Current Affairs
  • American Psychological Association sees a dubious and weak link between mental illness and mass shootings.
  • Center for the study of Hate and Extremism has found preliminary evidence that political discourse is tied to hate crimes.
  • Access to guns and violent history is still the number one statistically significant figure that predicts gun violence.
Keep reading Show less