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Venus de Willendorf vs. Barbie

Venus de Willendorf is a statuette that first appeared during the Upper Paleolithic period. The exaggerated carvings of the body parts were how the artists of that time viewed women, fat and fertile. History often takes from the past to reinvent the future.

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Today’s society has the Barbie doll. Ruth Handler created it in 1959. Its long legs and slim figure has been worship by so many, that real women have undergone intense cosmetic surgeries to resemble the doll. Both figurines have gained notoriety based on the representation of women of their era, displayed their own meaning of beauty and cultures’ perception of it.

Venus de Willendorf Venus de Willendorf, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, is a type of art statuette that was discovered sum 25,000 years ago. It was discovered in 1908 by the banks of the Danube River near the town of Willendorf in Austria during diggings led by Josef Szombathy. The statuette was carved from a rare oolitic (stone eggs) limestone using a flint tool. This particular type of stone was not available in the area it was located in, thus concluding the statuette was not created locally. Standing 4 3/8 inches (11. 1 centimeters) tall, the figurine is noticeably rounded.

It displays obese and voluptuous women’s body parts. It has large pendulous breast as well as a large middle section, thighs, and a pronounced posterior. Her arms are thin and rested high on her breast. There is a braided pattern around the top of the head. Some archeologists identify it as the hair while others say it is a woven hat. The vulva is very detailed, which led scholars to believe the original sculptor had some knowledge about human anatomy. The statuette does not have feet, so it cannot stand on its own. In addition, it does not have facial features, which is consistent with others figures from that era there were found.

The large breasts and abdomen along with the detailed nature of the vulva have caused people to believe the Venus is indeed a fertility symbol. The people who carved this statuette lived in a stone-age environment. Fatness and fertility was highly desirable during that time. The Venus was said to have a structure of sexually charged swollen shapes, an epitome of abundant fertility and of eternal sex. She was the woman of all women. For Paleolithic people, accentuating the parts that dealt with reproduction mattered most in the figurines, which is why the breasts and pelvic area were exaggerated most, unlike the buttocks.

The artist’s goal was to draw the most attention to those parts. During this era, food was scare so obesity was unlikely. This led artists to believe the sculptor worked from a model, creating a body worth ritualization. Mattel® Barbie Over the years, Barbie, or Barbie doll, has become a household name for many American families, as well as throughout the world. So, where the idea of Barbie derive? While watching her young daughter play with paper dolls, Ruth Handler noticed she was using her infant like dolls to play adult roles.

She shared the idea of creating an adult doll to her husband Elliot, a co-founder of Mattel, who was less than impressed. After coming across a German toy doll called Bild Lilli during her stay in Europe, Handler was determined to make her idea a reality. In March 1959, Barbie, named after Handler’s daughter, Barbara, was born. Barbie stands a slender 11 ? tall, with long legs, perky breasts, high buttocks, flat stomach, barely there hips, and thighs, displaying an exaggerated hourglass figure. She has long thin arms and her feet are created for wearing high heels.

She has long flowing hair with a slender face, long neck, high cheekbone, slanted big blue eyes, and comes wearing make-up. There has been much criticism over Barbie’s size. If her measurements were created in human form, the woman would be 5 feet, 9 inches, measuring 36-18-33, a figure impossible to have or achieve naturally. This known fact created a lot of controversy amongst consumers and anorexia groups. Studies show the average size of an American woman is a size 14, the exact opposite of Barbie. Barbie displays the “ideal” look of modern culture.

Paleolithic Culture vs. Modern Culture. The Paleolithic era is the earliest period of human development that began roughly 2 million years ago. There are three successive divisions of the Paleolithic era: Lower, Middle, and Upper. The most notable feature of that time was evolution of the human species, which went from looking like an ape to more humanlike features, which was a very slow process. The Upper Paleolithic era is known for its increased creations of art and ornaments. One of the most famous Venus figurines to come from that era was the Venus of Willendorf. Barbie has allowed little girls to be more feminine and display etiquette.

While some consumers see this as a great thing, naysayers believe it hinders, causing them not to want to play outside, get dirty, and depend on men to do the hard work. At the same time, Barbie has displayed women can have any kind of job. She has more than eighty jobs. In addition to being a model and fashion designer, Career Barbie has been a veterinarian, firefighter, astronaut, nurse, and politician. Because Barbie comes with so many accessories, parents believe it may give little girls a shallow mindset that materialistic items are what matter most. During the Paleolithic culture, men were the workers and women took care of home.

Barbie has over eighty jobs, thus showing gender equality among careers. In today’s world, women make up a larger percent of employed individuals. Although the figurines display very different characteristics, both are considered beautiful and desirable within their respective cultures. The Venus was a representation of the women of their time and Barbie is a representation of the ideal woman, according to critics. The main differences between both figurines are their sizes and the eras they were discovered or created. The Venus is naked, much like the women of the Stone Age while Barbie comes with hundreds of accessories and clothes.

In Often times, history repeats itself and it shows in the creations of these statuettes. Effects on how Society Views Women The Venus de Willendorf as always maintain her size and exaggerated features, for the meaning behind them is unparalleled. Throughout the decades, Barbie has evolved, taking on a more diverse look to appeal to different nationalities, such Native American, African American, Hispanic, Oriental, and more. While the color and some facial features are altered to resemble the people of each ethnicity, one thing has remained the same and that is her unrealistic size.

Theories about the usability of the Venus figurines were said to involve religion while other observers saw it as a sex toy for men. As for Barbie, she has always been the definition of beauty, what little girls and some adult women aspire to look like. In today’s culture, thinner women are considered better looking than full-figured women, thus creating a void between women because of their sizes. This has been an ongoing stereotype for quite some time. It has even led to bullying throughout our schools.

Critiques feel instead of displaying Barbie in the thinnest form, she should be created in different sizes, showing that beauty does not define your size. Conclusion The Venue of Willendorf, commonly known to some as Nude Woman, is on display at the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. She sits in a glass case and the only thing that allows it to show is the light illuminated from above. The case is places within what looks to be a resemblance of a temple that reads, Venus von Willendorf. Despite the controversies surrounding the perception of Barbie, it continues to be the world’s bestselling doll.

The collection of Barbie includes Vintage Barbie, Pop Culture Barbie, Holiday Barbie, Malibu Barbie, and the list goes on. Barbie’s appearance has changed over the years, with the exception of her body shape, of course. It is how we identify her. The same goes for the Venus and her exaggerated curves. Both figures had played a pivotal role in how people of their time view a beautiful woman. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The sooner we accept this notion, the more we can build up confidence in little girls who will someone day grow to become women.

References
Gerber, R. (2009). Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her. HarperCollins. McElvaine, R. S. (2000). Eve’s Seed: Biology, the Sexes, and the Course of History. McGraw-Hill. Rogers, M. F. (1999). Barbie Culture. SAGE Publications.

Sayre, Henry M. (2012). Discovering the Humanities, 3rd Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions. Enger, Crissi. (n.d.). Types of Barbie. eHow. Retrieved April 11, 2013 from http://www.ehow.com/facts_5491736_types-barbie.html Witcombe, Christopher. (n.d.).The Venus of Willendorf. Art History Resources. Retrieved from March 12, 2013 from http://arthistoryresources.net/willendorf/willendorfwoman.html