19 October 2012
Why Barbie is a Good Role Model It happened every year. My sister and I received journals from mother to begin the school year. Looking back, I recall flipping through the blank pages to the inside of the back cover. I spotted questions like name, age, height, and what do you want to be when you grow up? My mother always filled these in. Mother asked me, “What do you and your sister want to be when you grow up?” I put my hands on my hips, spreading my legs, giving my best Superman pose. The answer was easy. I was going to be a policeman. My sister was next. She was four, just starting preschool. She answered, “I want to be a mommy and a housewife.” Fast forward three years. We had the same journals, same questions, different year, and mother filling in the blanks asking the same question. This time I wanted to be a fireman. So, when mother asked, that’s what I told her. Next, my sister answered, “Doctor”. This surprised me. I remember feeling jealous. She picked something better than me. It was at that moment that I realized where my sister got this idea that showed ambition and lofty goals. She got it from her doll, a Barbie. This doll had changed the way my sister viewed herself. She no longer wanted to be a housewife. Now she wanted a career, one requiring an education. Barbie has been helping shape the future of young women for fifty-three years. This has happened through Barbie’s inspiration to dream big and set lofty goals. She teaches girls to respect themselves and others. She also teaches girls to think for themselves, be independent, and take charge of their own life, not waiting for a man to complete who they are. She also shows them the importance of physical fitness and staying healthy. Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator is a woman of vision with big dreams. As a young girl after graduating High School she wanted to go to college. Ruth’s parents thought this was a bad idea. In the 1930’s it was more traditional for a young woman to get married and raise a family. Ruth followed her dreams, going to college and meeting her future husband Elliot Handler. Later, in the 1940’s the Handler’s along with their close friend Harold Mattson owned a company that made picture frames. Elliot, Ruth’s husband began making doll furniture with the scraps of wood from the picture frames. Little did they know this would be the beginning of the most successful toy company on the planet? Later, the Handler’s along with their friend and business partner formed a company called Mattel. The name comes from a combination of Mattson, and Elliot Ruth’s Husbands First name. Ruth received most of her inspiration and creativity for the Barbie doll from watching her daughter and her friend’s play. She realized while watching them that playing pretend about the future was an enormous part of growing up. At that time all her daughter had to play with were paper dolls and most of them were infants she also realized it was just as important for girls to visualize what they could possibly grow up to become. Ruth started to formulate and envision creating an adult doll. This was not an original idea. Adult dolls already existed, such as Miss Revlon and Cissy. These dolls were expensive most family’s couldn’t afford them. Ruth’s vision was to create a doll that had all the accessories as the other adult dolls at a price that everyone could afford. Later, Ruth took a trip overseas, while in Switzerland she found an adult doll. She brought the doll back for her daughter. This German doll known as Lilli had begun as a cartoon character in a newspaper (Billy 19). Lilli was known for her sexy clothing and big breasts. She was created for adult entertainment “a symbol of sex and pornography for the men of Germany” (Johnson “History”). From this doll called Lilli, Ruth found the inspiration she...
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