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."
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A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.
- When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
- Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
- Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.
- The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
- Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
- Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
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