Friday, 1 June 2012

Cute Barbie Doll

Barbie, the single most successful doll ever produced, was the invention of Ruth Handler, one of the founders of the fledgling toy and novelty company, Mattel.

The petite plastic doll, named after her daughter, Barbara, made its debut on March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. For the occasion, Barbie wore a black and white striped bathing suit, shoes and sunglasses. Her price was $3, a modest sum even then. A handful of outfits was displayed alongside her, costing between $1 and $3.

At least half of the Toy Fair buyers wanted nothing to do with Barbie. There was the body, for starters, with breasts, a small waist and long legs. Then there was her expression: sullen, knowing and strangely covert. Her eyes were thickly rimmed with dark eyeliner, her lips, a candy-apple red.

Despite the initial coolness of her reception at the Toy Fair, Barbie was flying off the shelves by the summer of 1959, and stores could not keep Barbie in stock.

In her rich and varied existence, Barbie has had stints as a model, astronaut, paleontologist, Air Force jet pilot, surgeon, NASCAR driver and a rap artist. She has sung on the Grand Ole Opry, played basketball with the WNBA and run for president three times. Mattel recently conducted an online vote, asking people to select Barbie’s 125th career: Computer engineer was the winning choice.

Barbie has morphed into a legend and an icon. For Barbie is both mirror and model, reflection and avatar.


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