Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Barbie Doll: Inventions by Women A-Z

First Barbie (1959)--available as brunette or blond
My granddaughter has a fabulous Barbie doll collection, complete with doll houses, clothes, accessories, and just about anything you could imagine. When I first saw it, all I wanted to do was sit down and play dolls with her, which I did and had a ball.

So where did Barbie come from, you might ask? Who invented this one of a kind doll?

Ruth Handler
Ruth Handler
(1916-2002)


The lady with the nice smile on the left, Ruth Handler, was the inventor, and she was one savvy business woman. She and her husband were co-founders of the Mattel Toy Company.....that's right, Mattel. 

One day, as the story is told, Ruth was watching her daughter play paper dolls with some friends. She noticed the girls were playacting scenes from the future, not the present, and began to imagine a doll they might like. Certain she was onto something big, she modeled the doll after a popular doll in Germany (initially sold to adults) that she had discovered on a trip. She named the doll Barbie after her daughter Barbara. (The Ken doll invented later was named after her son).

Barbie was introduced to the public at the 1959 American International Toy Fair in New York City on March 9, 1959 (which happens to be Barbie's official birthday). The doll was an instant success, in fact so successful, Mattel was soon listed as a Fortune 500 company.



 Not everyone liked the new doll. Some parents voiced concerns about the doll's adult chest, which clearly showed a woman's breasts. Ruth was adamant the doll have an adult appearance, but did agree to one change in 1971. Barbie's eyes, instead of casting a "demure sideways glance," were changed to face forward. 

Meanwhile, Barbie's measurements were somewhere around height 6 feet, weight 100 pounds, and body size 39-19-33. In 1997, in light of criticism that Barbie's body shape was unrealistic and young girls might try to emulate the doll, Barbie's waistline was made larger.




Barbie has been sold in over 150 countries and remains popular to this day. The average girl age 3-11 owns at least 10 dolls. 

How about you? Are you a Barbie doll fan?






Sources:
http://www.women-inventors.com/Ruth-Handler.asp;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbie
http://www.teenink.com/opinion/pop_culture_trends/article/175098/The-Barbie-Effect/


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

49 comments:

  1. I enjoyed Barbie. Mine had the bouffant hairstyle, not pictured above. I thought she looked like Jackie Kennedy. Fun stuff, Sharon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One thing I didn't learn was how many different Barbies exist. Now I'm curious.

      Delete
  2. Aw, love Barbie! I was most definitely a fan of these dolls growing up... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never had a Barbie. Need to ask my mom. I think she was one of the concerned moms.

      Delete
  3. I have to admit, I was never a doll fan - I liked bears, building blocks and cars (which is ironic, because I really dislike driving ;)). My twin was the doll fan and she had Sindy rather than Barbie, probably because Sindy is British ;).
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh how interesting. I wonder if opposite interests are common among twins.

      Delete
  4. A great invention also this is a great post. My grand daughter loves her Barbie Doll.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had so much fun playing Barbies with mine :)

      Delete
  5. I loved my Barbie's! Then one day I came home from school, and they were all gone. My mom had donated them to charity. In the meantime, she never got rid of anything else. I found clothing in her house that was more than forty years old! Brilliant theme, Sharon!

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh how sad. I don't imagine it was easy at the time.

      Delete
  6. Barbie is definitely interesting. I've had her dolls in the past, but I don't know how I feel about her now... not so much for the body type as I do for the commercialism! There's a very similar doll to her in Japan (Barbie is ultra, ultra rare over here). Risa-chan. She's got all the same clothing features and family, but has no chest, and is Japanese.

    Alex Hurst, A Fantasy Author in Kyoto
    Out of Print, Fiction authors and their shorts

    A-Z Blogging in April Participant

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So interesting about Japanese dolls. Vince and I had Japanese girls in college living with us for awhile. Very naive about our culture.

      Delete
  7. Hi Sharon - I'm not a Barbie doll fan .. but I know many littlies who are or were .. and yes the Handlers were astute weren't they .. cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't either. Kind of feel I missed out!

      Delete
  8. I had lots of fun playing with Barbie dolls when I was growing up, and my daughter loves them, too. It was interesting reading about where they came from.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fascinating theme for this month!

    I recall playing with Barbies a lot as a kid... and I also recall losing the clothes and shoes almost as soon as they came out of the package. Given the concerns about Barbie having breasts when the doll first came to the marketplace, I wonder what the 1959 public would have thought of my perpetually naked Barbie collection. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Not me, but with three girls, quite a few Barbies have passed through our house. And yes, they always seem to be lying around naked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha-ha. You and Connie have given me a whole new perspective!

      Delete
  11. Still have some of my mom's from the 50's. They're so retro.

    Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I dearly loved Barbies. I remember saving my money to buy them outfits--and those outfits were expensive! My daughters had probably a dozen Barbies each, but neither of my granddaughters were Barbie fans, which meant Grandma couldn't spoil them by expanding their Barbie collection. I wonder if Barbies are going out of style? Or is it just that my granddaughters' interests aren't in dolls. You said your granddaughter loves them. Maybe it also has to do with geographical location, or something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does make you wonder. My daughter didn't like dolls all that much either. I wonder if our living between two universities made a difference.

      Delete
  13. I knew the lady invented barbie and started Mattel and named Barbie after her daughter but I had no idea it was based on a German doll. I had Barbie growing up. I always loved the dresses and always portrayed Barbie as head of a company. I was actually sad they changed her shape. It never bothered us growing up. I think they need to look at the actual actresses and reality stars who make themselves so thin and have all that surgery-that is worse than Barbie

    ReplyDelete
  14. So Ken and Barbie are... brother and sister?... Ew.
    Interesting! With all the criticism about body types and Barbie, one would think it was invented by a man... I never really liked Barbie dolls. Interesting story!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, no not really....but never thought of it that way before!

      Delete
  15. I had a Barbie doll, but I admit I liked her best friend Midge better cause she had freckles, like me!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh....I remember Midge. She was a so cute!

      Delete
  16. Well, no, can't say I'm a Barbie doll fan... now. But when I was a kid, I woudl have bought all of them :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah....bet you'd want to dress one though if you saw one again. Loved all the accessories my granddaughter had!

      Delete
  17. Although I never owned a Barbie doll (I did own other dolls like Superman and Spiderman), I will confess to playing with more than few Barbie dolls. I have a sister, so I guess that's not surprising.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, of course David. I mean Superman and Spiderman needed girlfriends, right? :) :)

      Delete
  18. I didn't have Barbies as a little girl because I had a dog that liked to chew on their rubber heads , but my girls had plenty of them. They always ended up in the bath tub.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Come to think of it, I had a dog like that too. Glad you girls got to enjoy.

      Delete
  19. I never had a Barbie. I wasn't much into dolls, but this was very interesting. I didn't know Barbie anything about the history of this toy.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I never did either. Not sure why. I remember cute little muffin dolls...all were flat chested and preteen.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Very interesting post! I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I really loved Barbies. I think I had about six of them. They weren't really so great to play with, but just having one was a thrill for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But lots of people do....I watched my granddaughter make up stories playing with them. I see that as a positive.

      Delete
  22. I never had a Barbie--or a G.I.Joe or anything like those figures. My sister had at least one Barbie and Ken as well as a number of other accessories. I'm fascinated by the toy over the years and the vast array of toys that surrounded Barbie. The outfits were pretty amazing as well.

    Interesting to hear the origins of Barbie. I remember when they first came on the market.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really....not even G.I. Joe. I think I like the dressing up of the dolls. It really is like playing paper dolls, which is what Ruth Handler observed.

      Delete
  23. Sure I like Barbie. Who wouldn't that &*$#@+ has everything. Great post for B. I wrote about her a year ago March on my blog https://mholloway63.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/what-happened-on-march-9th-meet-barbie/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, that's interesting Maryann. Need to check that out!

      Delete
  24. I don't recall Barbie dolls in my time but I know they're alive and well! Here in South Africa a woman is trying to make black Barbie type dolls for African children, the pattern of the beading on their clothes reflecting some of the traditions of black culture. I so hope she is successful. Thank you Sharon for this post. I have two sons so I did not have the pressure to buy dolls in their childhood!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm...I think there is a black Barbie, but South African culture would be different so that's important. I'm learning so much in this.

      Delete
  25. I LOVED Barbies as a little girl! I loved dressing them up in their ball gowns. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was fun dressing Barbie with my granddaughter, especially the pretty gowns!

      Delete
  26. I loved Barbie as a child. My sister and I would design all sorts of adventures for them, and it was great fun. There's still a lot of criticism about her waistline, of course, so I didn't realize that it had actually been smaller at one point.

    ReplyDelete

"Stay" is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary
(A.B. Alcott). Stay and visit awhile. Your comments mean a lot to me.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...