Ruth Handler: The Woman who Designed Prosthetic Breasts, Inspired by Barbie Dolls

Topics: Barbie, Mattel, Ruth Handler Pages: 3 (934 words) Published: December 11, 2010
A Woman and her Doll
In 1959 the world of toys was changed forever by a woman under 12 inches tall, Barbie. Barbie was a pioneer in a time when baby dolls with cubby, rosey cheeks dominated the market. She was the first mass marketed adult-like doll and one of the first toys to have a marketing strategy based on television advertising. Since Barbie’s debut at the New York Toy Fair, in her zebra bathing suit, she has kept pace with the times and sported many influential and influenced looks over the decades. It is now estimated that over a billion Barbie dolls have been sold worldwide in over 150 countries (Wikipedia, “Barbie”). M.G. Lord, author of "Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Living Doll," called Barbie the most potent icon of American culture of the late 20th century. She's an archetypal female figure, she's something upon which little girls project their idealized selves. For most baby boomers, she has the same iconic resonance as any female saints, although without the same religious significance. (Lord, Forever Barbie) Behind this icon of pop culture was a woman by the name of Ruth Handler. Ruth and her husband, Isador “Elliot” Handler founded Mattel in 1942. But it wasn’t until Ruth’s revelational busty figured, blue eyed, platinum blonde came on to the scene, that business really started booming. Handler’s inspiration came from watching her young daughter play. Barbra, whom Barbie was named after, showed little interest in playing with her baby dolls. Instead she preferred to dress up her adult-like cut out paper dolls. “Every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of the future,” Handler said, in a 1977 interview with The New York Times. “If she was going to do role playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was a little stupid to play with a doll that had a flat chest. So I gave it beautiful breasts.” Barbie has undergone a lot of changes over the years and has...

Cited: "Barbie." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 27 November. 2010.
Horwell, Veronica. “Ruth Handler: Creator of the Doll Whose Changing Style Defined Genera- tions of Young Women.” The Guardian. 02 May 2002.

Kershaw, Sarah. “Ruth Handler, Whose Barbie Gave Dolls Curves.” The New York Times. 29 April 2002.
Ladies’ Home Journal Books. 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century. Des Moines, Iowa: Meredith Corporation, 1998.
Lord, M.G. Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Living Doll. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1994.
Ticona-Vergaray, Evelyn. “Barbies 50 years of Beauty and Controversy.” United Press Interna tional University. 08 November 2009. Web. 27 November 2010.
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