Living in a Barbie WorldI am a Barbie Girl living in a Barbie world, a culture defined by physical perfection. I understand my generation's obsession with physical perfection, just look our idols and role models, Brittany Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Barbie Dolls by definition, no matter if designed by birth or surgery. However, I question how and why did a generation before me have such an obsession with a doll culture representing this physical perfection without the media influences that cause me to highlight my hair, weekly manicure my finger and toe nails, live in a tanning salon, get up an hour early to blow dry my hair and put on my makeup, starve myself until my tummy is concave and hate my thighs? Yup, I am a Barbie Girl without the luxury of plastic creation. Flash back to 1959: the country has been through two world wars and a depression. But do you think this history was of any concern to my aunt, five years of age, who wanted only one thing for Christmas, a Barbie Doll; or that the shortage of the doll mattered to her mother, who shopped every store in several states to make sure that on Christmas Day her daughter had the one thing she wanted? "New for '59, the barbie doll: a shapely teenage fashion model! Retail price $3.00..." And my Grandmother succeeded, on Christmas Day, 1959, Roberta's daughter, Peggy Ann woke up to receive her first Barbie, a doll that at age 50, she owns, loves and has taught me to love. Hmm, guess that makes me a Second Generation Barbie Girl! Culture identity passing down through generations.
The First Barbie released in 1959!
Step into the 60's and we begin to see the first glimpse of the concept of the midriff cultural guru. The demand for Barbie in the Fifties is the first step in the development of the power of the teenager. The Creators of the guilt money concept to develop in future years, that will be driven by the children of those young adults who came into the limelight during the Fifties. It is ironic that those who are defined as Teenagers, an innocent, new and sexy term, fell in love with a doll who originated in Germany as Lilli, a sultry, almost pornographic caricature in a German comic strip. She was a far cry from the innocent all-american image that mattel's mass marketing changed her into. A doll to project every little girl's dream of the future.
The sixties were the age of youth, as 70 million children from the post-war baby boom became teenagers and young adults. The movement away from the conservative fifties continued and eventually resulted in revolutionary ways of thinking and real change in the cultural fabric of American life. No longer content to be images of the generation ahead of them, young people wanted change and little girls wanted more then paper dolls and baby dolls to play with.
I asked my Aunt, the former five year old Peggy Ann, now know to me as Auntie Peggy, whom I consider to be a Barbie expert, to share with me her perspectives of Barbie. As we discussed Barbie, I could hear how excited and energized she was becoming about the subject. As she called me for the 100th time with some Barbie tidbits, she apologized for bothering me so much. I laughed lovingly and thanked her for her greatly appreciated input and I said to her (it(s ok - this is a subject you love.( And as I thought about this 50 year old women who I love, still in love with her Barbie doll, the reality of Barbie really hit me. Barbie is not a doll. Barbie is a patch in the quilt of the fabric of life. She represents a portal into every aspect of our history and particularly the cultural trends of women, since she was created. Mattel(s Barbie dolls are a pop-cultural trend that has influenced generations of young girls throughout the world. Playing Barbie has allowed girls to create a whole world of fantasy, separate from their real life environment, to be anything and every...