Photo courtesy EONLINE.COM
by TIFFANY LIU
Although it was not very popular when it first came out, with only 351,000 sold its debut year, the Barbie doll has now become one of the most iconic American toys.
Born from an idea she had seeing her daughter play with paper dolls, the first Barbie doll was introduced to the world March 9, 1959, in New York by its creator Ruth and her husband Elliot Handler, founders of Mattel Creations.
“My philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices,” said Ruth Handler, according to barbiemedia.com.
Named after the Handler’s daughter Barbara, the Barbie doll became very popular. Today, she has a significant presence on social media with millions of followers on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram, according to the article “Barbie’s Fascinating Evolution From A 1959 Icon To 21st-Century Model Of Diversity” by Jessica Reveles on inquisitor.com.
“Our brand represents female empowerment. It’s about choices. Barbie had careers at a time when women were restricted to being just housewives,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice president of Mattel, according to stylenews.peoplestylewatch.com.
Recently, Mattel introduced three new models of the doll—curvy, petite, and tall— which demonstrate the change in the way beauty is seen today. Arriving in a range of styles and skin tones, the new Barbie dolls will hope to connect with a bigger audience, according to marketwatch.com.
“I believe that the newer Barbie dolls are really nice because there is a lot of variety and you are free to choose whichever doll you want,” said sophomore Helen Le. “It’s not like before where they were all just one body type.”
However, with many new types of dolls come rising concerns about the money required for different outfits tailored to each body type. According to abc2news.com, Mattel responded to this by stating that the changes represent progress, not perfection.
Now that Barbie represents diversity and transformation, Mattel hopes that the new dolls will boost sales, according to latimes.com, and enable Barbie to again become a role model, but for the 21st century.