The idea of Barbie came about when a woman named Ruth Handler was watching her daughter play with dolls. In the 1950’s, girls of all ages only had paper or cardboard dolls to play with and preferred to play with cut outs of teenagers and adult dolls. So, Ruth Handler thought to make The Teenage Fashion Doll for older girls, as a three dimensional doll, called Barbie, named after her daughter Barbara (Heppermann 2010). However, Mrs. Handler met resistance when she went to her husband with the idea, and he didn’t think her idea would work out. When they travelled to Germany, she found a doll called Bild Lilli. This doll was a strong-minded individual that would use all at her disposal to get what she wanted. Bild Lilli was adult-bodied; which represented exactly what Handler had in mind for Barbie. In 1959, Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair. This was the start of a new revolution, as far as dolls were concerned because for the first time, dolls did not only consist of paper and cardboard dolls, but also a more realistic, three dimensional doll that resembles what girls would want to be like, and can physically hold. But, like many toys, Barbie’s fame was not without its challenges.
Merriam-Webster defines “idol” as “a greatly loved or admired person.” So what exactly does it take to be considered an idol? If the answer includes being a strong role model for young girls and staying relevant for over 50 years, Barbie fits the bill perfectly.
We may know the most controversial piece of molded plastic formed into the shape of an out of proportion woman with blonde hair. Her name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, or as we know her, Barbie. With her odd portrayal of a woman, many believe that Barbie should be banned for suggesting to young girls that a woman only has one image to strive for. But Barbie is no more than a “piece of plastic” molded into something that looks nothing like a woman at all; she is a simply innocent child’s toy that should never be used as a tool for feminists. The Barbie controversy started in 1959 when she was introduced to a toy fair in New York after becoming popular overseas. The controversies went from her being too lewd to being too thin, both reasons supposedly encouraging unacceptable thoughts in the minds of young girls. Although many believe that this toy is harmful, we need to see that Barbie is just an innocent toy that promotes positive imagination of future careers and self-image in our young generation of females.
Barbie: Feminism's Best Friend or Worst Enemy
Ask any five year old American girl who Barbie is and she will most likely run into her bedroom and grab Barbie off the shelf. She will frill up her mini skirt and try to make her walk in her tiny plastic heels. Excitedly, she will hold her up for you to admire.
A tiny miniature woman will stand in front of you, only about six inches tall. Her long blonde hair accents her sparkling blue eyes and huge white smile.
Barbie was created in 1959 and since then has been a popular toy among young girls. Her popularity among young girls has started a debate whether she is a role model. Some see her as the toy she is, however others see her as the reason so many girls develop body image issues due to her unrealistic body.
Barbie, an American icon that was a product of the Mattel Company, revolutionized the lives of young girls and women for many decades. The creation of Barbie, meant for many young girls the opportunity to have choices during a time when women were limited. Although, Barbie has long been criticized for being associated with domesticity and her appearance among many other things, she is nonetheless an iconic figure in American History. As a female who grew up playing with Barbie dolls, for many people like myself, she was more than a toy, she was an influence that many woman have tried to emulate because she was an innovate figure in the 1960s and has continued to be well into today. The intention of this paper is to examine what were the intentions of Barbie doll creator Ruth Handler when the doll debuted in 1959 as well as the magnitude of Barbie’s impact on women and women’s history.
Dolls have remained an important role in the childhood of many young girls. Whether the dolls are being played or cared for, they have come to play a major role in influencing the minds of their youngest admirers. One doll that has captured the interest of millions worldwide is Mattel’s Barbie doll. Standing at no more than a foot tall, the Barbie doll has become one of the most iconic images of women. For decades, the doll has sold right off store shelves with its ability to provide a positive role model for young girls and stimulate the imaginations of both the young and old. With her beach blond hair and ownership of almost every pink accessory ever made, Barbie has grown to become one of the most influential dolls of all times. Though initially created to provide a positive role model for young girls and women, the Barbie doll has inadvertently come to misrepresent the image of beauty for women. Through her superficial and overly beautified appearance, Barbie reflects the importance placed on being seen as beautiful for women.
In 1945, Ruth and Eliott Handler founded Mattel – one of Americas leading manufacturing companies of today. The idea for the Barbie doll was conceived when Ruth watched her daughter play with adult paper dolls. She noticed the importance of being able to change the doll's clothes, and decided to create a three-dimensional fashion doll, naming her Barbie after Barbara (her daughter). At the time, the toy market was dominated by baby dolls and toddler dolls.
“Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy is the epitome of what views from society can affect you. The title itself has a deeper meaning. A Barbie doll is known for its ideal physique, perfect hair and teeth, and an incredible wardrobe. It is a fake impression of a women’s appearance that is generally played with by little girls. It is an icon around the world and role model to many young girls. Young girls are impressionable and their self-esteem is not fully mature. “This girlchild was born as usual and presented dolls that did pee-pee and miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy” (Piercy). This little girl is like any other girl. She is presented with dolls to play with, and other toys to pra...
No matter the passing time or the era the world is in, young women maintain affected by negative body images which need to truncate at an early age before it the negativity has a chance to resonate in their impressionable minds. Since young girls are brought up to have these bodily expectations that are at times unreasonable, sometimes expectations arise from other peers causing name-calling and negative comments to ensue causing devastating consequences. In Piercy’s poem she talks about girls growing up with their traditional toys such as dolls and lipsticks. (643) At first Barbie looks like a harmless toy that girls have played with for 52 years (Gelder, 116) but conceivably the doll starts the problem due to Barbie prevailing to remain not typical to the average human body stature. Casey Tallent and Dr. Jan Deeds work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Women’s Center in the gender studies segment. In particular, this pair organizes a workshop that they bring to schools as early as the middle school years. They proportion out Barbie to how she would look in real life. In realit...