Did you play with Barbies when you were young? I wasn’t huge in to Barbies – but I wasn’t really in to toys or dolls in general so it’s nothing against Barbie. Nonetheless, I did own a few Barbies and was gifted a Barbie Dream House for my birthday or Christmas one year when I was probably in kindergarten. I remember playing with a family friend’s Barbie house and she had an elevator in hers (not battery operated, but a pulley system) and I thought it was amazing! Mine did not have an elevator (so sad) but it was still really nice.
So even though I didn’t play a whole lot with my Barbie Dolls, I can definitively say that Barbie played a role in most young girls’ lives when I was growing up. Barbie has been around for 60 years – since 1959 – if you can believe it! To celebrate, Barbie Forever, a gorgeous coffee table book was released detailing the history of Barbie.
The coffee table book covers the history of Barbie, the creator, how Barbie has inspired people for decades.
I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book – it is a coffee table book after all – but I’ve skimmed through it and it’s so cool to see the evolution of Barbie and all the different Barbies there are and have been.
Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, said “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be.” And young kids were able to play and dream that they could be anything they wanted to be.
“Barbie lets them see themselves as women of action, women in the world doing interesting jobs and having amazing adventures.”
It’s really interesting to see how Ruth Handler came up with the idea of Barbie and all the history that comes with it – from actually constructing the doll, to marketing her, and the whole evolution of the roles Barbie has played and careers she’s had over the years. In 1960, Wedding Day Barbie was released. Now in 2019, Barbie has an Instagram page and can have a full fledged career attending Glamour Magazine Women of the Year. There are doctor Barbies and Barbies of different skin colors and hair colors. There are Barbies who were hijabs. There are Barbies with glasses.
Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager for the Barbie brand at Mattel, talks about the direction the brand has taken and trying to keep Ruth Handler’s vision alive. In 2008, “Mattel honed in on the notion that through Barbie, a girl can be whatever she wants to be. We’ve become maniacally focused on why Ruth Handler created Barbie. She knew there was a dream gap for girls, and there still is. She’s more than a doll, but the doll started it all”. I especially love when she says, “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” I think it’s true – when girls don’t see people that look like them or in roles that they dream to be in, it can be hard (but not impossible) to envision themselves in the big wide world doing what they want to do and being who they want to be.
I love that Barbie is not just a toy or doll, but something more than that and a symbol for young girls and boys everywhere.
*This book was sent to me complimentary but all opinions are my own.*