Barbie Doll History

By Karly Cox & Sierra Summers

Where It All Began

  • In the Summer of 1959, Ruth Handler invented the first Barbie doll. Little did she know this simple toy would become a national beauty icon for kids all over the world. Ruth Handler got the idea to make the Barbie when she saw her daughter playing with paper dolls and noticed that she only acted out what she wanted her future to be. She decided to make her a three dimensional doll that she could use to act out her dreams and future goals. Ruth thought that, because the doll was her in the future, she should have the features of a teenager. The first Barbie had the career of a teenage fashion model. Barbie was the first doll in America with an adult body.

The Big Idea

There are many pressure growing up, and being beautiful is one of them. In 1965, toy companies released the Slumber Party Barbie that came with instructions on how to be skinny and beautiful. The toy set came with a set scale of 110 pounds and a book that read, "How To Lose Weight" on the cover and one instruction inside, "Don't Eat!" The toy set was recalled for it's controversial meaning and was later remade into the Barbie Pajama Doll which came with healthier alternatives like face cleanser, hairbrush, and a cup of hot cocoa. Media has put a spin on what people should look like, dress like, and even act like. Statistics have proven Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents. Fifty percent of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight. The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. There are so many things for people to worry about in life and appearance shouldn't be at the top.

Turning Point

Before Barbie existed, a beautiful American woman was curvy like Marilyn Monroe. Woman weren't expected to be twig thin and flawless from head to toe. When children were introduced to Barbie dolls they looked up to her. When they played with Barbie they acted out their future and imagined themselves to someday look like Barbie. They were immediately introduced to an unrealistic body image. People now saw Beauty as thin and perfect and still do. Marilyn Monroe's perfect figure turned into an undesirable heavy figure. Everybody, adults, teens, and children, wanted to look just like a Barbie. In the picture above the weight loss book suggests not to eat. Eating disorders are extremely common in the U.S. today and many teens admit that they want to look like a barbie. No matter how thin they may get they never think of themselves as good enough. Barbie obviously doesn't have any zits or blemishes, so those natural occurring parts of life and growing up are extremely over exaggerated. Girls pack on the makeup just to hide the tiniest red dot that they can only see as a volcano on their face. Body image and natural beauty has changed drastically since the creation of Barbie. Barbie has changed America and many other parts of the world's view of beauty forever.