In Barbie Birth, the maternity photographer Katie Moore invites us into a private moment in the life of the iconic doll: the birth of her child. Following the plastic princess from the moment she goes into labor to her first breastfeeding session, the photographs read like an eerily polished family photo album. Ken and Nurse Barbie aid the birthing doll as she goes through her home birthing process; all three never break their smiles.
Because Barbie serves as such a controversial icon of feminine domestic and physical perfection, the concept that Barbie would give birth seems both radical and bizarrely expected. Barbie, bound by all sorts of societal expectations, would of course become a mother given the opportunity to grow into full adulthood. The series is daring because we never expect her to actually mature, to see her scarily sexualized yet childlike physique evolve to the point of pregnancy and childbirth.
The powerful execution inspires ambiguous and murky attitudes; on one hand, it’s upsetting to see a depiction of a birth so sterile and unrealistically perky, but on the other, it’s moving to see the childhood toy released from eternal sexualization. Shot in nostalgic black and white, one image depicts Barbie’s bare breast— once a nipple-free icon of sexualized innocence—casually exposed in bed with her family, allowing Barbie to be nude yet less objectified than she might otherwise be. The tension between childhood and adulthood, between artifice and realities, is as powerful as it is disturbing. Take a look, and let us know what you think in the comments.
Thanks to Feature Shoot
Images via Feature Shoot
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