Barbie: the Early History by Erica Wolf

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Do you know anyone who has their own dream house, super fun pool house, pink convertible, or their own magical musical movies? No, I’m not talking about Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, This girl is more classic, and more of a role model to every little girl around the world. She’s a fun, outgoing character with an outfit for every occasion. She’s Barbie. Today we will learn about this amazing doll and the affect she has had on toy industry. First we will examine the pink and perfect history of Barbie, then we will try on the many different characters in Barbie’s family, and finally we will hit the shelves to examine the marketing of Barbie merchandise.

First we will examine the pink and perfect history of Barbie. Barbie was first introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York in February of 1959 according to “Barbie: The Early History” by Erica Wolf last updated in 2000. Ruth and Elliot Handler, the creators of Barbie, modeled her after the German doll known as “Lilli.” Ruth discovered Lilli while shopping in Switzerland and brought her home for her daughter to play with. This inspired Ruth to create an adult doll made specifically for little girls. Handler eventually had Jack Ryan, an executive of Mattel, purchase the rights for Lilli and make a deal with the company to create a doll similar to Lilli. The new doll would have a more “soft” look and didn’t look as made up with makeup as Lilli. Finally, in 1958, the new doll, Barbie Millicent Roberts (named after Handler’s daughter, Barbara) was born. At 11 ½ inches tall, debuted as a teenage model in a black and white striped swimming suit that came with sunglasses, high-heeled shoes, and gold colored hoop earrings. The body was shapely with a movable head, arms, and legs. Barbie would be the first doll in America with an adult-like body. Though Barbie was thought to be a huge success, some people in America had a terrible reaction toward this new phenomenon. Many female adults frowned upon her...
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