Well, the news has been hard to miss, because I keep seeing it everywhere. I saw it in the magazine at the doctors, I have read about it in both the NY Times and the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, and, this morning, while having breakfast, I heard about it on NPR.
I guess the thing that surprised me on the NPR show was the affirmation that the creator of Barbie was a feminist and that she sees Barbie as a feminist doll. Really? This thing that pushes a completely unhealthy and unrealistic body image for young girls can be seen as feminist? How?
The logic goes like this: Barbie was created 50 years ago when the only toys little girls were given were baby dolls. This restricted a young girls imagination to growing up to become a Mommy. Barbie created a space in toy land, for young girls to dream about becoming vets, Nascar drivers, astronauts, etc.
Fine, I can buy that.
Still…. did she need to have the shape she has?
Two interesting facts about that. First, in recent years, her waist has gotten larger. Second, when Mattel wanted to make the toy, they were told it was to advanced. In Europe, the idea’s creator found a little plastic doll that was based on a prostitute in a comic strip and brought it back to prove that little plastic dolls with small details could be made.
Finally, and this is a confession, my parents did buy me ONE barbie. They got it for me in college and it was “Chilean Barbie”. Since I was just returning from Chile, it was too funny to pass over. Here she is:
And some facts about Barbie from The Canadian Press:
Some facts about Barbie:
-Barbie’s real name is Barbie Millicent Roberts
-Barbie has four sisters: Skipper (1964), Stacie (1992), Kelly (1995) and Krissy (1995)
-Barbie’s first pet was a horse named Dancer
-The first Barbie doll sold for $3 (1959)
-Barbie’s first boyfriend, Ken, debuted two years after Barbie in 1961. Ken was named after the son of Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler
-Ken and Barbie broke up on Valentine’s Day in 2004 after being together more than 43 years
By the Numbers
1 billion (estimated): Fashions produced for Barbie and friends since 1959
105 million: Yards of fabric used in making Barbie and friends’ fashions, making Mattel one the largest apparel manufacturers in the world
74.5 million: Google results using the search term “Barbie”
300,000: Barbie dolls sold in 1959
US$27,450: Current estimated selling price of the original 1959 Barbie doll in mint condition
1,000: YouTube Channels dedicated to Barbie
300: Facebook pages in Barbie’s likeness
100: people, designers, seamstresses, pattern makers and stylists needed to create a single Barbie outfit and look
70: Famous designers who have outfitted Barbie
50: Pets owned by Barbie, including dogs, horses, ponies, cats, a parrot, a chimpanzee, a panda, a lion club, a giraffe and a zebra.