American Icons: Barbie

Feature

Friday, February 13, 2009

Barbie Feature Card_Big

How did a German streetwalker become the All-American Girl?

Whether you've dressed her up in ball gowns or chopped off her hair, everyone has something to say about the All-American doll. Since her creation in 1959 — based on a sexy novelty item sold to German men — the best-selling doll in the world has charmed girls, lured collectors, made billions, and stirred controversy.

Is Barbie a negative female stereotype? Or is she a toy that encourages imagination? Countless artists have played with Barbie's image, sometimes defiling the doll as a form of commentary, and the Mattel company has at times responded with lawsuits. Studio 360's Leital Molad looks into how Barbie has endured and what her future may hold.

Contributors:

Leital Molad

Comments [6]

inwoodita from inwood, ny

Barbie is NOT a toy for children. For goodness sakes, I had no idea what the boobs and high heels were all about when I had my Barbie as a child. They made no sense to me at all. Imagination? Me, a little half-hispanic, half-jewish girl, I'm supposed to look at this doll and imagine myself as her? I didn't even come close. She was like a martian doll for me. A little alien being. I can't understand people who defend Barbie. Seeing that she was inspired by a German sex toy just confirms all my suspicions.

Sep. 24 2010 12:18 PM
Mike Licht from Washington, DC

Barbie is 50. Will she join AARP?
See
http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/barbies-big-birthday/

Mar. 09 2009 12:17 PM
Alan Peche from Appleton, WI

My wife and I adopted our daughter from China in 2004. One of the perks of staying in our hotel in Guangzhou, China was a special Barbie holding an Asian infant provided to the hotel by Mattel Hong Kong (they also supplied all the toys in the hotel's playroom). It will always be an additional fantastic memory. What I found even more interesting, it seemed the hotel staff attempted to pick a Barbie that had similar hair color to each adoptive mother.

Feb. 15 2009 12:16 PM
Irene K. Diveris from Virginia

Barbie did not fill an empty niche. Ideal made a 10 1/2" woman doll/Little Miss Revlon: http://collectdolls.about.com/library/price/blgalp39.htm My sister & I each had one. Also:
http://www.dollinfo.com/missrev.htm & http://www.angelfire.com/art/dollmemories/missrevlon.html Her figure was more realistic than Barbie. She had the same high heel feet.
She didn't have a husband or boyfriend. When my sister & I played dolls, Daddy was always at work. We also had one each of Barbie, Midge, Skipper, & Ken.

Feb. 15 2009 12:15 PM
David from Germany

Inspirational indeed:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mareen/tags/karbieben/

Jan. 13 2008 12:15 PM
Susie from Colorado

Barbie is not a negative stereotype to women and although this debate will probably never end, I think it is an outrage! Barbie is a child's toy of imagination and play. Its in the mind of over controlling "feminist" and other people of this sort who create there own problem.

Nov. 24 2007 12:13 PM

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