Brown Bag: Too Much Pink!: Influencer Barbie and the Mediatization of Little Girlhood



The “girl-method” (Mitchell, 2011) is highly valued in girlhood studies and focuses on adults working with girls to understand more about the girl experience and, hopefully, advocate for them. Typically, the focus is on teen or tween girls (McRobbie, 2007; Ringrose & Harvey, 2013; Rossie, 2015; Willett, 2005), which has provided valuable insight into the girl perspective. However, little girls, or girls ages 5-9, have not yet been heavily included in the field. As part of my dissertation project, I facilitated two focus groups with little girls to explore their perspective on the Barbie’s Youtube Vlogs—where Barbie is now an influencer—and what they think about older girlhood in relation to media made for them. In this presentation, I will explore a content analysis of the Barbie Vlogs themselves, as well as themes from the focus groups.
Speaking to girls this age can bring new insight into the figure of the girl. Even at ages 5-9, girls are forming their identity. Barbie represents a specific girlhood—a white, (upper) middle-class, can-do girl. In her vlogs, she demonstrates an interior life focused on self-empowerment and competency, engaging girls in a culture of competency rather than of leisure. Barbie’s modern role-model worthy makeover as a lifestyle influencer is an interesting dichotomy of social forces at play—the unapologetically feminine and capable character is using social media to speak directly to her viewers. My goal with this study is to explore how little girls interpret Barbie’s performance of teenage girlhood. The presentation will also include reflections on the methods, working with girls this age, and recommendations for future research.


Presented by PhD Candidate Brilynn Janckila

All are welcome to attend!


Friday, March 15 2024


Petersen Library, Walker Arts & Humanities Center