Thursday, November 9, 2017

Textual Analysis Essay Sample

The text analyzed is an article from the Salon magazine website entitled "So What’s It All About, Barbie?". The Editors of Mothers Who Think who authored the article ridicule the recent shift in the fashion industry that has created Barbies of healthier and more real-life proportions. Instead, they call the allegations against the favorite toys of generations “the paranoid fantasies of conspiracists who'd like us to believe that the doll is an agent of antifeminist mind control” (“So What’s It All About, Barbie?”, 1997). The claim that the slim toy is “being partly responsible for eating disorders in teenage girls as well as breast implants and cosmetic surgery in adult women” is proclaimed ridiculous (“So What’s It All About, Barbie?”, 1997). The main ideas have been discovered through reading the paragraphs and observing shifts in the author’s discussion. First presenting factual information about the debate, the authors then move toward formulating their position in the debate.

Introducing their position with rhetorical questions “But isn't interpretation what toys are all about?” also helps the reader to find the main ideas (“So What’s It All About, Barbie?”, 1997).

The text means a vehement denial of accusations against the favorite dolls of the millions and includes an attempt to protect the cherished ideals from what is seen as unhealthy feminist allegations. The text creates explicit meanings through vivid imagery. For example, the authors quote the obviously foolish proposal to build Barbie with “a mustache, cellulite and varicose veins” (“So What’s It All About, Barbie?”, 1997). On the implicit level, putting the words ‘healthy change’ in brackets, the authors suggest that the shift in Barbie’s appearance is in fact far from healthy. Talking about playing with the doll that “smelled good,” “playing for hours on rainy afternoons, playing and playing and playing,” the authors invoke the implicit meaning of hominess, family atmosphere, and warmth that is sure to appeal to their readers’ nostalgic feelings. The explicit meaning here targets semantic processes while the implicit one addresses pragmatic ones.

The text was produced by an unidentified group of authors labeled as the Editors of Mothers Who Think. The reasons for such anonymity can be multiple: the text could have been produced by several individuals, with no one willing to claim the full authorship of the text. On the other hand, the staff of the publication could have emphasized their unanimity in the expression of the ideas. In any case, the intent in the creation of the text was to establish a position concerning an acute social issue that falls within the competence of the publication, as noted by the name Mothers Who Think. As a section of the Salon magazine, this edition claims to offer thought-provoking pieces on being a mother, and taking a controversial position in the debate can help further its attraction by appealing to mothers willing to explore all sides of the discussion. The article is also to fall into the general style of publications to make sense.

The text can have different meanings to different parts of the audience. For example, feminist activists can see it as a manifestation of the conservative viewpoint that defines the notorious doll as “a powerful indoctrination into the culture of acquisitiveness and its attendant disappointments” (“So What’s It All About, Barbie?”, 1997). However, they can still use it as an example of the opposing viewpoint and material for refutation. To the feminists, the text can serve as an incarnation of the ideas of fixed gender roles associated with the acquisition of a girl in childhood and romantic image of beauty and love that also oppresses a woman’s mind.

On the other hand, mothers who refer to the text to find out more information on the latest developments in toy industry will see it primarily as a way to obtain more information on the new design of Barbies that will help them assess its attraction. For example, a mother thinking of what type of design she wants for her daughter, the old ‘glamorous’ or the new ‘healthy’ one, can turn to the article for exploration of the issue. The material found there will make sense to her in the light of decision-making.

For educators and psychologists, the text will make sense as long as they can compare it with their research in the area and personal analysis of the issue. Comparing intuitive findings of the authors with their scholarly work or literature review, they will be able to confirm or dispute the opinion.

The text is a magazine article and is similar to many documents of the same form. Like journal articles, it does use some research, and some material used in discussion is even available through the supplied links. Unlike journal articles, however, the cited material is not rigorously documented.

Conclusions are based not on findings obtained through research, but on intuition and the author’s emotions. This approach is typical of magazine publications. Also typical is the wide use of figurative language that creates colourful pictures in the mind of the reader: “pink-and-lacy epitome of feminine role play”, “story percolating in the idle minds of editorial writers”, “beer-bellied, bald, couch-potato Ken” (“So What’s It All About, Barbie?”, 1997).

The cultural significance of the text lies in the contribution it makes to the debate of the harmful trends affecting the body image of young girls in the US and the way Barbie dolls affect stereotypes. Adding fuel to the debate, the articles urge proponents of more realistic Barbie designs to find new arguments to substantiate their point of view and aim for the greater validity of their claims. The ideas expressed in the text demonstrate the emphasis the US society places on children’s upbringing and the formation of the right ideals in the early years. It also continues the debate about women’s body image and the role of fashion and toy industry in shaping these ideals. More broadly, the article can be seen as part of the discussion on the role of women in society and ideals imposed on their minds by their environments.

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Hadley, R.F. The `Explicit-Implicit' Distinction. Retrieved April 18, 2006, from Simon Fraser University Burnaby website at
“So What’s It All About, Barbie?” (1997, November 26). Salon Retrieved April 18, 2006, from