With more than 150 careers on her resume she has worked as a Nurse, lifeguard, dance teacher and even astronaut. Her popularity has spread throughout the world for decades. She is beautiful, talented and every little girl has yearned to have her. Who is this woman you may ask? Her name is Barbie. I will be speaking about the History, popularity, and controversies of the Barbie doll. The Barbie doll was invented by a woman named Ruth Handler in 1959. Ruth had a daughter named Barbra and noticed that she would make paper dolls and enjoyed giving them adult roles.
During that time there were not many dolls that were adult like. Most represented infants known as the baby doll. Ruth shared her idea with her husband who was the co founder of the Mattel Toy Company. Initially he was unenthusiastic about the idea. Saying that the idea was to expensive and wouldn’t be marketable. Ruth’s idea was inspired by the Lilli doll which was based on a popular comic strip.
The Lilli doll was a blonde bombshell, working girl who Ruth felt represented women in a positive view. Despite Ruth’s initial support from her husband she worked on her design of the doll with her engineer friend Jack Ryan. The doll was given the name Barbie named after Ruth’s daughter Barbara. The doll debuted at the American International Toy fair March 9, 1959. This date is also used as Barbie’s birthday. When the Barbie Doll was launched she was introduced as a teenage fashion model.
She was available in blonde or brunette wearing a black and white bathing suit, pony tail, sandals and e6\ar rings. Over the years the Barbie design has changed in many ways. For example, in 1971 the dolls eyes were adjusted to look forward instead of a sideways glance. In 1961 a red haired Barbie was added to the collection. 19 years later in 1980 the first African American and Hispanic Barbie doll was launched. Ever since 1959 the Barbie doll phenomenon has not slowed down and still sells millions of dolls per year today. The Barbie doll was a breath of fresh air for children and the toy industry which leads me to my next topic the Barbie dolls popularity. The Barbie doll is one of the most successful dolls in history, with sales of more than 1.7 billion in 1998. According to the Mattel Toy Company, 3 Barbies are sold every 2 seconds throughout the world. Today, Barbie has become a brand and is not limited to just dolls. There are video games, computer programs that allow young girls to design outfits for Barbie and of course movies. Barbie appeared in toy story 2 and 3 as a supporting character to woody and Buzz light year. Time Square even named one of the streets Barbie Avenue for a week. The Barbie doll has been a growing favorite for little girls all over the world. A billion Barbie’s have been sold worldwide in over 150 countries.
There are more options as to what type of Barbie that can be bought which I believe ads to its popularity. Because the Barbie brand offers so much variety as far as race and ethnicity, occupation, and fashion trends the brand has made history with this invention. Eight months after Barbie’s debut at Toy Fair. Ruth Handler was according to the Los Angeles Times running a half- million dollar business. Ruth states in her book “Dream Doll”; I designed the doll with a blank face so that the child could project her own dreams and future onto Barbie”. Ruth’s vision for her doll was to be positive and to help young girls self esteem. She felt it was important for children to have a realistic view of women through the doll. With that being said many people did not agree with her and the Barbie doll caused a lot of controversy. One criticism that the Barbie doll received was from moms stating that they felt it was inappropriate to have a doll with breast. Ruth Stated in an interview “I believe it is important to a little girls self-esteem to play with a doll that has breast, besides one day she too will have breast and she is beautiful”. Another huge controverserial topic was the body image.
If Barbie was to be a real women her measurements would be a 36” breast 18” waist and 33” hip if Barbie was a human she would not be able to stand up straight because her body was not proportioned of a normal women, An academic expert n=by the name of John Hay stated that the likelihood of a women being shaped like Barbie was less than 1 in 100,000. Many people felt that this was not giving a realistic to young girls view on how a women’s body is shaped. Critics felt that young girls would believe that if they are not shaped like Barbie they would have poor body image and could lead to eating disorders. Although the Barbie brand came out with their first African American and Hispanic doll in 1980, some of the African American community was not happy about the representation of the doll. They felt that the only thing that the doll had was darker skin but lacked African American features. For Awhile the black Barbie had dropped in sells drastically until finally the Mattel toy company recalled all the black Barbie’s and created them to have more of African American features. Although the Barbie has received much controversy, Ruth and her invention has been a game changer. She started off with one idea and it changed the world.
Today Barbie is a brand and has been going strong for over 50 years. She took a risk even though she didn’t have much support from others she felt in her heart that she wanted to invent something that was contrary to what was being sold in the toy industry. The lesson in this is to follow your dreams no matter how much support you may or may not have. If you have a vision go for it and despite whatever criticism you may receive persevere and you too can change the world.