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Communication: GI Joe & Barbie, Essay Example

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Toys like Barbie and GI Joe can have both positive and negative impacts on children.  These toys allow boys and girls to engage in imaginative play.  This allows them to try out different roles (through the toys) and stimulates their creativity.  However, the dolls themselves send messages about what girls look like (thin, blonde, white, etc.) and what boys look like (muscled, big, white, etc.).  These toys, and the advertising at the company websites, both reinforce the idea that girls play with feminine toys while boys play with aggressively masculine toys.  As the text points out, the way we see ourselves is formed, in part, by external factors like the media, our peers and family, and even the toys we played with as children.

20/20 Episode

  1. The 20/20 video demonstrates that there is a great deal about identity that seems to be pre-determined. Many of the children interviewed have always seen themselves as a member of the gender opposite to that which they were born, and don’t understand why their self-concept and physical gender conflict.  The video also illustrates the importance of family support in developing a positive self-concept and having the freedom to choose one’s identity.
  2. The video reflects information on the role of nature and nurture in the development of the self. The transgendered children in the video have been highly affected by genetics (nature) in the sense that they were born one way but identify as the opposite gender.  Their self-concept has been highly affected by the nurturing that they’ve received from supportive parents.  The video also reflects information about the role that gender plays in shaping an individual’s social identity.  Although none of these children have gone through sexual reassignment surgery, they are able to integrate themselves in their chosen peer groups through the clothes they wear, their hairstyles, and the activities that they participate in.
  3. I believe that these children are lucky to have such supportive and empathetic parents.  While it will not be easy for these children to come to grips with their transgendered identity as they grow older, the respect and kindness that they receive from their parents will help to counterbalance the intolerance that they will likely encounter from the outside world.
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