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Local Artist Addresses Female Insecurities With Classic Toy

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An Athens artist is merging her love of photography with a classic kid's toy to break barriers facing women.

Kari Gunter-Seymour's newest exhibition, "Barbie Falls on Hard Times", which opens Friday at the Union Arts Gallery in Athens, puts the familiar Barbie doll in some unexpected situations to spark a conversation among viewers. 

"It's talking about women's health, women's attitudes and American culture toward women that's creating real health hazards for us, " said Gunter-Seymour.

Gunter-Seymour said it can be hard for a woman to see herself as beautiful when compared to the unrealistic standards of a little plastic doll.

"That glamour doll beauty, that perfect busty top and that tiny waste, and those lovely little hips, it's pretty hard to live up to that," said Gunter-Seymour.

While she acknowledges that a select few do meet those ideals of female beauty, she said it can do some serious damage to a person's self esteem when they aren't able to live up to those standards.

For this reason, she said she chose to showcase imperfections of a seemingly perfect doll like Barbie through her artwork.

Some of her photographs involve Barbie in less than ideal situations, which include cleaning the toilet, stepping in gum and having toilet paper stuck to her shoe.

"That's when they have that real experience of 'Oh my god that's happened to me, and I totally get this, and it's so cool that it happened to Barbie'," said Gunter-Seymour.

Kristine Williams, a local poet, has several poems featured in the exhibit as well. Like Gunter-Seymour, Williams' said she intends to use her work to make women more aware of how hard they are on themselves.

"I wanted to address the voice that I think most women carry around in their heads. That voice that says 'You're not good enough'," said Williams.

The two women say they hope to make a positive change in the community by showcasing their work.

The artwork will be on display at the Athens gallery throughout the month of February.