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Barbie Doll

My Mama Loves Every(body)

I was never allowed to have a Barbie doll. My mom decreed it a rule in the Bickel household. I asked her why one time when I was six or seven, and she told me that she didn’t want us having dolls that portrayed unrealistic body standards. She didn’t want me and my two sisters growing up thinking that we were supposed to look like Barbies when we grew up

Slumber Party Barbie: Always in Fashion?

The little girl races to unwrap it and gasps when she sees what the package contains. It’s Slumber Party Barbie™ and she couldn’t be more thrilled. All of the girls in her class have the doll, and now she can’t wait to bring her new Barbie in to school to show them! With the silky haired icon comes an accessory set including a pink satin robe, hair curlers and a pajama set. But what Barbie would be complete without a matching pink scale permanently set at 110 lbs. to keep her slim and fit? Oh and better yet, Slumber Party Barbie™ comes with her very own diet book, solely containing the advice “Don’t eat!”

Ruth Mosko Handler

Ruth Mosko Handler is best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, but her most important work may be her prosthetics for survivors of breast cancer.

Teffilin Barbie and Burqa Barbie: What does it mean to dress dolls?

Barbie was created in 1959 by Jewish business woman Ruth Handler. She was an Amazonian creation: a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, big-busted American beauty. She loved to drive pink convertibles; her wardrobe and shape-shifting abilities were astonishing. By the 80s, she was highly multicultural and had an endless variety of career paths open to her, from model to mad professor. Nothing is off-limits to ever trail-blazing Barbie, not even tefillin or a burqa.

Tefillin Barbie's new career

"You know Barbie's getting a new job," says my friend Mimi to me. "People can vote for her new career."

Babe Ruth

Ruth Mosko Handler made two fortunes from plastic boobs.

First as the women who single handedly brought Barbie into our world. (Makes me think of Sophacles saying, “Nothing vast enters the lives of mortals without a curse.”)

And secondly, as a breast cancer survivor who created a prosthetic breast company. Thank you Ruth! What a powerhouse.

Ruth Mosko Handler unveils Barbie Doll

March 9, 1959

Ruth Mosko Handler unveiled the Barbie Doll at the International American Toy Fair in New York.

Ruth Mosko Handler

Best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, Ruth Mosko Handler combined her marketing genius with her husband Elliot Handler’s creative designs to form the toy company Mattel, Inc. Starting in their garage in 1939, the Handlers produced Lucite gifts, wooden picture frames, and dollhouse furniture before developing their first toy, the Uke-A-Doodle, in 1947. The success of the Uke-A-Doodle was followed by a series of rubber-belt-driven musical toys, including the Jack-in-the-Box, as well as toy guns such as a Winchester rifle replica. Yet it was the Barbie doll, created in 1959, that “ran off the counter.” Thirty years later, sales of the doll that Handler named after her daughter exceeded one billion dollars.

Happy 50th birthday, Barbie

I have to admit that I didn't grow up with Barbies. Born to a feminist mom in the 1970s, I only had Skipper, Barbie's flat-chested cousin. But as much as Barbie's boobs kind of frightened me (and still do), Skipper just didn't have her charisma.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Barbie Doll." (Viewed on January 21, 2018) <https://jwa.org/tags/barbie-doll>.

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