Controvery over Barbie

Essay by oreoluvr211College, UndergraduateA+, January 2004

download word file, 12 pages 4.2 1 reviews

Downloaded 167 times

American culture has been impacted by an icon that has survived through four decades of political, social and cultural changes. Despite her age, she still wears short skirts, has a tiny waist, enormous breasts, and a flawless airbrushed smile. She is the classic white, blond standard-bearer of fake beauty that was born to Ruth and Elliot Handler and her name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. Barbie is one of the most influential icons in society and has left numerous children, particularly girls, with a false idea of how they should appear to society and enforces gender roles and negative stereotypes.

Barbie was created by Ruth Handler with the original thought of creating a doll for her child, Barbara, which could replace paper dolls. Ruth dreamt of a doll with an adult-shaped body because only then could her daughter indulge in her imagination and act out a life as an adult.

Ms. Handler actually stole the design of the doll from a pornographic cartoon woman who was seen in a German comic strip and sold as a sort of "three-dimensional pinup" (Lord 8). The original model was created by Max Weissbrodt and her name was "Bild Lilli" (Lord 26). She was intended to be bought by older men and not young girls. Of course, Ruth wanted to change the "Lilli" image, consequently moving away from the pornographic model towards one that could relate better to the youth of America.

The idea of an adult doll was not accepted well by Mattel initially because it was not seen as a cost effective expenditure. Therefore, the idea was taken to Japan where Kokusai Boekim, KBK, (a Japanese toy maker) made Ruth's dream a reality. Numerous changes occurred to the original Lilli model, making the doll appear more American and wholesome. As a result,