We’ve all experienced at least one. We would spend whole afternoons dressing her up, making her out to be a princess or a spy, combing her long hair, making tattoos with a Bic pen, or, in the case of being captured by a raptus nave, decapitating her head. Even in front of the meanest children, she was unfazed and continued to live. Barbie, who was created by Ruth Handler in the late 1950s as a symbol of female emancipation, is now 64 years old. After landing on the moon, pursuing countless other careers, and experiencing both great success and harsh criticism, Barbie has developed into a social influencer who is eager to remind young girls that anything is possible. Like then, today. We honor her by going back in time while we wait to watch her rule even the realm of cinema in the currently shooting live action movie, in which Margot Robbie will play her.
Barbie was made by Ruth.
Late 1950s. United States. Ruth Handler, of Willow, Wisconsin, watches her daughter Barbara play and notices that she frequently enjoys giving her paper dolls adult duties and making them the stars of minor events from everyday life. This gives her the idea to make a doll with female features. Before it, there was nothing of the such available on the American market, and while boys had a wide range of choices, including dolls that could play the role of mothers, toy automobiles, puppets, balloons, and dozens of other baubles. The key inspiration came from Bild Lilli, a “action figure” version of the character from a comic strip published by the German daily Bild Zeitung, while on a family vacation to Switzerland.
Ruth began working on the project with the assistance of her husband Elliot, a co-founder of the Mattel toy company. The Teutonic doll was revised and transferred to Japan for manufacture when the patent and related rights were acquired. The finished product is Barbara Millicent Roberts, popularly known as Barbie, a vinyl doll measuring 29.2 cm tall, 205.2 grams in weight, and with an adult figure. Erwin Blumenfeld’s renowned Vogue cover from the January 1, 1950 issue served as inspiration for Barbie’s makeup.
“Every young girl needs a doll to use as a projection device for her future aspirations. It seemed a little silly for her to play with a doll that had a flat chest if she was going to role play what she would be like when she was 16 or 17. I therefore gave it lovely breasts.”
The same Handler will give a justification to The New York Times in 1977. Just in time for Barbie to put her hair up in a ponytail, don a zebra bathing suit, sandals, sunglasses, and earrings so she is ready to make her debut at the New York Toy Fair on March 9th, 1959. The experts’ response is muted, and many retailers refuse to offer the new item because they don’t believe it is truly enticing to girls or parents. The clever approach taken by Mattel is to directly target youngsters on television, particularly in The Mickey Mouse Club’s advertising slot.
The choice proves to be successful. The doll, which is also available in blonde, sells 350 thousand copies in its first year alone and generates sales revenues of around 2 million dollars at the start of the 1960s. This is the version that has always been preferred, as evidenced by the fact that the most popular Barbie in the world, the Totally Hair Barbie, made in 1992, has long hair that reaches her feet.
A misstep is atoned for the following year when, as the USA and Russia race into space, she touches down on the moon before Neil Armstrong and the dawn of history. As the challenging 1970s begin, Barbie also experiences her first crisis. To get through it, she lowers costs and adopts loyalty methods like expedients for clubs and customized correspondence. The creation of Ruth Handler is prepared to face disco music, aerobics, and alternating the professions of surgeon, rock star, Olympic gold, and manager in a suit with padded shoulders, the perfect promoter of democracy between the sexes in the workplace. She has almost completely avoided the period of youth protest and the criticisms of feminists who view her as the model of the object woman. Independent and diverse, she became an ambassador for UNICEF in 1989, had her rap debut in 1992, and later won the presidency of the United States before dedicating her career to baseball by signing with Major League Baseball.
In her sixty years of life, Barbie has acquired hundreds of professions, but she has also undergone some lifting: the oblique gaze has turned to the front, the snout has shrunk, and the bust has been somewhat lifted. In 1992, he started talking and mispronouncing the phrase “mathematics is difficult,” which caused the ire of many women to scatter. Without a spouse or children, as Lenore Wright, a philosophy professor at Baylor University, puts it:
“Barbie’s portfolio includes a “house of dreams,” a cabriolet, a pool, a camper, a Jacuzzi, a couture guardaroba, a horse, a dog, and other things that reflect her financial success, independence, and material wealth.”
In reality, the plastic girl’s possessions, clothing, and accessories have totaled millions throughout the course of her life.
From a toy to a contentious icon
The vinyl girl quickly rose to fame as a true icon, celebrated by pop art legend Andy Warhol in Portrait of Billy Boy as Barbie and, much more recently, by Vogue Italia, which gave her the focus of a well-known editorial. Giampaolo Sgura and the numerous designers who raced to outfit her or produced collections that were inspired by her, from Karl Lagerfeld to Giorgio Armani (Moschino SS15). As proven by Beyoncé and Kylie Jenner, who have chosen the most recent Halloween to become the most famous Mattel dolls, having one’s own Barbie version for movies and celebrities (Twiggy was the first to do so in 1967 and Gigi Hadid one of the last) continues to be a milestone.
The toy Ruth Handler created has enjoyed phenomenal popularity, but not without some drawbacks. The term Barbie has come to connote the conventional image of the lighthearted, breezy, pink-dressed Californian blonde that was likely portrayed by the iconic Barbie Malibu model of 1971, despite its roots in female emancipation. The same story was told in Aqua’s 1990 song Barbie Girl.
The doll is most often criticized for encouraging an unattainable and anatomically implausible degree of perfection and thinness, which is said to frustrate girls and, in the worst cases, lead to an inferiority complex. According to a 1995 estimate by the International Journal of Eating Disorders, Barbie would stand 1.75 meters tall, with a chest measurement of 99 cm, a waist measurement of 53 cm, and hip measurements of 83 cm. According to some studies, she would almost crawl since her legs would be 50% longer than her arms and she would be too skinny to have a regular menstrual cycle.
Erica Rand, the author of the essay Barbie’s Queer Accessories, continued to criticize Mattel for failing to provide models that reflect the diversity of ethnicities among women throughout the world in the 1990s. putting an end to the previous attempts with these words:
”To suggest that the “real” Barbie is the white one would be the same as merely changing the skin tone of a white Barbie without altering her form or characteristics.”
With Project Dawn and the Fashionistas line, the American corporation has made an effort to address these flaws in the new millennium. In the first, seven leather tones, 24 alternative haircuts, and 22 different eye colors were offered for Barbie; in the second, three new silhouettes—curvy, tall, and petite—were added. In addition to the numerous Barbies already available, Mattel has now added additional disabled Barbies. The doll has taken the form of some great women, like Frida Kahlo, plus-size model Ashley Graham, dancer Misty Copeland, football player Sara Gama, British model Adwoa Aboah, NASA scientist Eleni Antoniadou, and director Ava DuVernay, in order to provide girls with positive role models.
the influencer Barbie
At the age of sixty, Barbie had to contend with the digital age, picking up the social media lingo and squabbling with other fashion bloggers and influencers to establish herself as a global icon. The groundbreaking doll that Ruth Handler made, the only adult in a world full of infants, quickly recognized that in order to sustain popularity, it was vital to adapt and keep up with the times. Therefore, she acted. She picked up the skill of taking selfies and used it to express her love of fashion and sense of style by sharing her life with the over 2 million followers of her official Instagram account @BarbieStyle. Another illustration of how Barbie is a self-made lady (albeit one made of plastic) who can overcome any obstacle.