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.
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: Independent Woman or Damaging American Icon? She's the classic American beauty, the woman we all dreamed of being at one point in our lives. She has long, tanned legs, cascades of blonde curls and has such perky breasts that she doesn't even need a bra. Although this character does not need air to breathe and is made of plastic, she has been one of America's most potent icons for more than 40 years and has affected girls in ways even human models aren't capable of.
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.
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.
Barbie Since the beginning of time, toys have often been an indicator of the way a society behaves, and how they interact with their children. For example, in ancient Greece, artifacts recovered there testify that children were simply not given toys to play with as in the modern world. The cruel ritual of leaving a sick child on a hillside for dead, seems to indicate a lack of attention to the young (Lord 16). The same is true of today’s society. As you can see with the number of toy stores in our society, we find toys of great value to our lives and enjoy giving them to children as gifts.
Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration.
Many of you have surely seen and even played with a Barbie, the fashion doll created by Mattel Inc. and launched in March, 1959. This blonde, plastic doll if compared to the body structure of a real human would have a height of 5 feet and 9 inches, a 36-inch chest, an 18-inch waist, and 33-inch hips (Winterman, 2009). Certainly this is not realistic in today’s society. Barbie’s unrealistic body structure can poorly influence young girls on their own body image and as such, regulations for toy makers should be put in place to promote positive body composition.
After a trip to Germany, Ruth Handler, the cofounder of the Mattel toy company, was inspired to create the Barbie doll. During Handler’s time in Germany she discovered the Lili doll. This specific doll was intended for adult males, due to the doll’s wardrobe. Typically, the Lili doll was dressed in lingerie or swimsuits, portraying the image of a sexy young women. After Handler learned about the Lili doll, she began to realize that her daughters did not have a doll that was not a baby figure. She believed the toy industry was training young women for what was customary, being a mom. Through Handler’s realization the Barbie brand was created, in an attempt to change the toy business.
Although sales have declined in recent years, for many women my age (high, low and in-between), Barbie is a well remembered part of our childhood. For better or worse, Barbie did symbolize a sort of rite of passage for me anyway. That said, among the chief complaints about the dolls concerns their fetishization/exaggeration of the female form and the product line's lack of diversity.