The idea of Barbie came about when a woman named Ruth Handler was watching her daughter play with dolls. In the 1950’s, girls of all ages only had paper or cardboard dolls to play with and preferred to play with cut outs of teenagers and adult dolls. So, Ruth Handler thought to make The Teenage Fashion Doll for older girls, as a three dimensional doll, called Barbie, named after her daughter Barbara (Heppermann 2010). However, Mrs. Handler met resistance when she went to her husband with the idea, and he didn’t think her idea would work out. When they travelled to Germany, she found a doll called Bild Lilli. This doll was a strong-minded individual that would use all at her disposal to get what she wanted. Bild Lilli was adult-bodied; which represented exactly what Handler had in mind for Barbie. In 1959, Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair. This was the start of a new revolution, as far as dolls were concerned because for the first time, dolls did not only consist of paper and cardboard dolls, but also a more realistic, three dimensional doll that resembles what girls would want to be like, and can physically hold. But, like many toys, Barbie’s fame was not without its challenges.
The design of the toy is meant to resemble a woman’s body in the prime of her teenage years. Barbie is tall and slender with a small waist and a full chest with blonde hair and blue eyes. When Barbie first launched, it was priced at about $3.00 (presently goes for about $15 - $40) it became an instant hit. The toy is manufactured in such a way the body is made of ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic and the head is made out of PVC (Polyvinyl chloride), The toy, like many other dolls, is fairly self-explanatory especially to its target audience of young pre-teens, which rely on their imagination to play with them. Young girls usually use the dolls to play house or dress-up. Sometimes when there is an accompanying set, there are simple instructions given for example, if the Barbie doll came with the Glam Fashion Jet, it would be accompanied with instructions of how to use each part of the jet.
Moreover, Barbies are very durable and depending on how well they are maintained, they can become family heirlooms and be passed on from generation to generation. Often, depending on the age of the child, the Barbie may be altered either by the cutting of her hair or the changing of her clothes. Yet, due to the fact that Barbie is a lifestyle toy, children are encouraged to continue these alterations to promote creative thought. Therefore overall, Barbies can last indefinitely with proper care or be short-lived if they are not well taken care of.
Barbie’s popularity spread like wildfire, leading to her being used as a platform to immortalize popular figures by way of making special editions figures of them. For instance, America’s First Lady in the 60s, Jackie Kennedy was one of the first muses and hence set...