For thousands of little girls (and indeed boys) Barbie was a huge part of their childhood. You could have gazing over her fantastic cars or constantly changing her glorious outfits whilst we sit in our bedrooms. We ALL had at least one Barbie we adored for quite some time. Barbie’s full name of Barbara Millicent Roberts has been part of young children’s lives for indeed over 50 years. But Barbie wasn’t always the perfect young women you have always known her as. She was based off an old adult gag gift that sadly used to effect the girls self esteem.
We can all agree Barbie was made for children. One day, the creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler, was interacting with her daughter as she played will her toys when she realized something. Her daughter was happily playing with her paper figures (who were adults) and ignoring her baby dolls. This got her thinking. Then she realized, girls want to use adult dolls, not babies. She decided to make this doll.
Even if Handler didn’t talk about it, the Barbie inspiration came from more than just her daughter’s paper dolls. Barbie has a rather strange past…
The first Barbie figure created was not made for children. She was mainly used as a fake gift at a bacelor parties. Bild Lilli were created in 1952 and were based off an adult comic strip. She was a rather… saucy lady and popular with the gentlemen.
“Men gave each other lilli figures as fake presents at Bachelor parties. Thinking it was funny, they put them on their cars mirrors, number plates or their rear view mirrors. Some also offered them to partners as a… suggestive keepsake,” Robin Gerber, the author of Barbie and Ruth said.
The first doll was made much more sexualized than the barbie doll. The comics that the creators of lilli made it obvious they were certainly not for children. But despite their almost polar opposite personalities, there are definitely several physical resemblances between them. Whilst the Handler family was on holiday in Switzerland in 1956 Ruth and her daughter bought three of the figures and took them home with them.
Barbie has many, many jobs. 180 in fact. She has been everything from a Doctor to a lawyer to an Astronaut. It isn’t surprising she decided against children. But the truth is Mattel decided to never give Barbie any children. Then each child can give Barbie a different world and show their imagination. Although you can get Barbies that come with babies. She does have younger sisters, but she and Ken never got married.
Barbie doesn’t just look oddly thin and unhealthy, if she was a real person she would have such a bad body type she would not get her period. That’s right, Barbie wouldn’t menstruate. She has already been criticized for an extremely unrealistic body type. BBC news researchers in Finland actually found out an interesting fact. The body fat percentage in Barbie would not be enough for her to get a period. Tough to justify, isn’t it.
Talking about her figure, many Mothers in the 1950s were very annoyed and upset about the thin body type she has. She looked nothing like the innocent girl baby dolls that children were playing with when Barbie first came out. They believed they were a way to project a child’s future self onto.
”If she was going to do role playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was rather idiotic to use a doll that had a flat chest, so I gave the Barbie breasts.” Handler said. She wanted Barbie to be older than a child because they can live through it, giving a little girl the chance to be anything they want to be. She said Barbie represented the fact women would always have choices.
No matter what you think about barbie and dolls, you have to admit there are many fans and collectors. Even though from the very start Barbie figure were made for children, adults still love her and there are plenty of collectors dolls. The Guinness World Record of the most Barbies was set by Bettina Dorfmann. She owns over 15000 dollys and even has a doll hospital out of her home. It is hard to say how many she could have in her house at one time.
Many of us never knew otherwise in the first place, but in 2011 Barbie and Ken decided to get back together. Not many people had realized that they had broken up in the first place. But in fact the lovers broke up in 2004. To announce the good news of getting back together Barbie announced it how we all would- on Facebook. Her fans were very vocal on their opinions of the relationship.
2015 showed Barbies a different look. They released a new line of their dolls and then offered a wider range of body shapes. It contained three different types; Small, Curvy and Petite. They also sold them in a variety of skin colors, hair colors, and wait for it… for not high heels, slat feet. Barbie figures always offered a variety of choices to the customers. They were changing the face of the brand and represent the variations that the girls could have.
Barbie has always been criticized for how unrealistic her body is. Even with the new body sizes,the majority look like the original and doesn’t seem to be changing. But her designer, Kim Colmone, does not believe that there is anything wrong with Barbie. “Barbie’s body was never designed to be realistic. She was designed for girls to easily dress and undress,” she told Co design.
She also revealed that she does not believe that her designs are the reason children have body image issues. She said “Clearly, the influences for girls on those types of issues, whether it’s body image or anything more. It’s shown it’s other things that change a girls body images” This made many people disagree with her. From a very young age, the ultra skinny dollys pressure the girls to want to be thin. According to several different researches, the Barbies that young girls have effects how they see themselves. It pulls their self esteem significantly lower.
Perhaps the evidence of Barbie causing lower self esteem is the reason the dollys are not selling as well and they used to. There are lots of other figures that Parents could decide from that didn’t have side effects. Maybe Mattel should go back to the basics.
Like any subject with super fans, Barbie has a convention. You can connect with other super fans for the reasonable price of $450. Over 800 people attend. therefore if you love Barbie, grab a ticket and get going!