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What Inspired You to Paint Barbie?

Judy Ragagli

Golden Glory Barbie Painting


Why do you paint Barbie?

I wanted to create an oil painting of Barbie that represents her as a cultural statement and/or icon in our modern times. I also wanted to celebrate her as a symbol of beauty, or “perceived” beauty. Through painting Barbie I found a connection to beauty.

One can interpret, through my oil paintings of Barbie, the paintings of her promote the principle of beauty. I wanted to capture her and make sure she wasn’t lost in the form of “Barbie.” The expanded view of Barbie in my paintings, is not just “Barbie, the Doll,” but, a realistic portrayal of her as real. Through portraiture, I wanted to enhance the beauty of the doll “Barbie.” By painting Barbie, I wanted to tap into feminine beauty, not the ego, but feminine beauty.

Barbie is carrying the banner of feminine beauty into an era where feminine beauty is being questioned. Feminine beauty used or expressed correctly can be one of the greatest sources of power in the world. The Beauty, Spirit, and Essence of Barbie is fundamentally the theme that keeps her alive. Through the process of painting Barbie, I am moving this spirit through her. I am creating a rendition of Barbie and as a result, the painting infuses Barbie with a spirit that brings her to life.

Today, the media embraces many images that have shock value, which devalues true beauty. Beauty in our culture is generally perceived to be superficial and insignificant. Barbie has certainly had her fair share of attention about her beauty and has been the recipient of both positive and negative criticisms. The media and many people have expressed that Barbie is representing the wrong ideas and/or her body image is damaging to young girls and adult women. We are told that Barbie is commercial and all about consumerism, i.e., her town house, cars, wardrobe, lifestyle, etc. We are also told that finding beauty in commercialism is wrong. The current culture embraces beauty as shallow and a soul-less characteristic of the feminine identity. In my opinion, Barbie is a positive role model. She touches upon pure femininity and takes pride in being a woman.

Expanding further on the topic of beauty, I know we can not live in a world without beauty. It is important for the life of our souls. Beauty appears to people in many different ways and nurtures the soul. -Nature, music, animals, and yes, even a Barbie Doll. Beauty has meaning beyond words and if we didn’t have beauty, the world would be gray.

I know it is the beauty of Barbie that connects people to her. I have had great conversations with people numerous times and I am always amazed and a little mystified about the emotional connection they have with her. I often thought to myself, “the eye of the beholder can see many things.”

-Judy Ragagli

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