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The Story of the Barbie Doll


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The year was 1959 when Barbie the doll was born from the clever innovation of Ruth Handler. Ruth got the Barbie concept from Bild Lilli a German made doll and together with the American toy company Mattel Inc brought Barbie to reality.


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Ruth was visiting Europe when she met the acquaintance of Bild Lilli for the first time. Being an ambitious business woman she finally knew what she could venture as an addition to the company she co-owned with her husband. She wanted to come up with a doll that looked exactly like Bild Lilli. She decided to name the doll after her daughter Barbara who played with paper dolls assigning them adult themes. The doll to be made was also to have an adult role just like her daughter's conceptualization.

Back in America, Ruth made some makeovers on Bild Lilli with the help of Jack Ryan an engineer. The doll was then named Barbie borrowed from her daughter's name and was first showcased in the American International Toy Fair in the city that never sleeps, New York. The date was March 9, 1959 the day celebrated as Barbie's birthday to date.

With time Mattel Inc acquired full ownership over Bild Lilli the German doll which saw production of the doll coming to an end. In her place, Barbie was introduced to the world wearing a zebra stripped swim and her trademark ponytail. Teenage kids went crazy about Barbie who was presented to them either as a brunette or a blonde. Her fashionable clothes were the master work of Charlotte Johnson a credited fashion designer.

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After the Barbie exhibition in the New York Toy Fair, production of the dolls started immediately. The first dolls were made in Japan with the clothes being handmade by home workers in the country. Approximately three hundred and fifty were produced all of them selling out upon release.

A few parents had issues with the modification made on the Barbie doll especially on the bosom region. Complaints were received about the doll having real looking breasts saying it made the doll unsuitable to kids. But Barbie doll was made to have adult traits thus the features couldn't be done away with. Modifications were however made on the eyes to look forward as rather than the customary side looking eyes of the previous Barbie Dolls.

The most amazing thing about Barbie is she has a story to share about her world. According to the world of Barbie she is in a relationship with her boyfriend ken that always has some ups and downs. Mattel even announced a break- up of the two in 2004 with hopes of rekindling the lost love in 2006.

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Over the years Barbie has been the only doll known to live a lavish lifestyle together with Ken, family and friends. Since her introduction, she has had the privilege of owning cats, dogs, several horses and a few wild pets like a panda, a lion and a zebra. She has even had the honor of driving state of the art cars like a corvette convertible, a jeep and a trailer house. Barbie has some flying qualifications too, with a pilot license to her name and commercial airliners to fly and also be a flight attendant to the same fleet. Ruth Handler came up with this fantasy world to portray to encourage women to take up on the roles in life perceived as a man only territory. The doll has boosted the same campaign by bearing names like Nascar Barbie in, Miss Astronaut Barbie and Doctor Barbie.

Barbie has also had some family and friends to share her world with. From 1959 to 1965 she had Skipper for a sister and Ken as the boyfriend. Barbie also had a best friend called Midge while Skipper had Skooter and Ricky as friends. Ken, Barbie's boyfriend, had a friend called Allan too.

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From the 60's to the 70's new friends were added to the Barbie family. Tutti and Todd were introduced into the family as Barbie's young twin siblings. Barbie also had a modern cousin called Francie. Tutti had a friend called Chris while Christie was also introduced as Francie's friend. Barbie had additional friends PJ, Stacey and Jamie. Ken also brought in a new friend by the name Jamie.

As the 70's proceeded, Skippie Barbie's sister had new friends called Fluff, Ginger and Tiff. More friends for Barbie were Kelley, Steffi and Cara while Ken had Curtis as a new friend. Enter the 80's which were better known as the Disco , superstar and rock era, skipper brought a new friend Scott to the Barbie world. Todd was all grown up now and was marrying Tracy. Barbie seemed to be making more friends like Dee Dee, Dana, Diva, Whitney, Midge, Miko and Becky. A new friend for Ken was Derek.

Though Barbie has been a success doll, critics still come out condemning the Barbie franchise. Those against Barbie doll claimed the doll to be having far-fetched slim features that caused anorexic traits in young girls who tried to slim out and resemble the shape of their loved dolls. Evident to this is a 1963 edition called Baby Baby-sits came with a floss weight book that advised against eating.

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In 1992, a new Barbie outfit dubbed Teen Talk Barbie was reported to have misleading educational remarks like 'Math is Tough'. This was automatically translated to Math is hard and was claimed to influence young kids to have the wrong misconception of math being a tough subject in school.

As if this was not enough, on the Barbie doll claims, in 2000 another accusation was brought forward about the vinyl make of the dolls. Critics were instrumental in claiming that the vinyl dolls leaked toxins that were dangerous to kids who played with them. This claim zZwas however dismissed when tests done on the doll by experts revealed the doll to be quite safe to play with.

The Barbie franchise came from humble begins and became a franchise worth millions of dollars. Despite the critics remarks kids just can't do away with precious Barbie.



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