Happy Birthday!!!!

To BARBIE???

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:

chilebarbieAnd 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.

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9 comments

  1. Well, I had probably around 20 barbies growing up but it didn’t affect my body image at all. I have always had a very healthy body image but perhaps that is the exception to the rule. I don’t think I ever thought Barbies looked even remotely like real people so I never wondered why I didn’t look like a barbie. I just remember having a black barbie and being told by girls in my neighborhood that my black barbie was ugly.

  2. I never played with Barbies when I was little. I’m sure they were around. But living overseas, they would probably have been expensive. And I was into legos. The only doll I had (which I find myself nostalgic for) was a strange little flat teddy bear (like flat stanley) we found hanging by its ears at one of the houses I moved into.

    For some reason, as an adult, I found myself occasionally buying the more elaborate international barbies. I loved the national dresses. I have the Thai Barbie and maybe three other National Barbies.

    Somewhere….lol…

  3. Haha, a couple things about those stats…they broke up? how can they break up, who decides haha? Plus i thought all those others were friends not sisters.

    relatives of my boyfriend were telling me how barbie was super expensive during the dictatorship. she mentioned one time seeing one for 40 luca! they lived in more rural areas though too maybe that was an influence or maybe it fluctuated

    last christmas a family i know begged me to bring a barbie from the US. they said they didn’t see them here.(they also said they’d pay me back, both of which turned out not to be true) .but the mom encouraged the daughter to name it after me because they claimed we look exactly alike, as all gringas look 100% like the doll, she said

    all of my barbies were inherited. but i remember one christmas i got a ken doll. i remember hiding behind the christmas tree and taking off his pants in curiosity hahaha.

  4. If it makes you feel better– Barbie and Ken got back together two years later in 2006– that little tidbit from the Milwaukee News Paper.

  5. LOL Ok, have to admit that I came across a Chilean Barbie on ebay. I didn’t even know that such a thing existed. I picked it up for about $15 including shipping and the originial price was still on the box which was $24.99 so I felt pretty good about my purchase. I felt good about it until my mother in law came to visit us for the first time from Cihile and said it was “ugly”. 🙂

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