Barbie turns 50 today. This reminds me of the best article I’ve ever read about Barbie (ok, fine, it’s the only article I’ve ever read about Barbie). It’s Kay Hymowitz from a couple years back. There I learned Barbie is based on a German doll for adults, named Lilli.
Hymowitz makes this interesting point:
Between her sexy look and her TV appearances, Barbie, then, marked a big turning point in American childhood. It’s not that no one had ever tried to make a buck off kids before. But up until Barbie, manufacturers and advertisers generally respected the prevailing cultural view about both the vulnerability of children and their subordination to their parents… As those disapproving mothers well understood, Barbie invited girls to identify not with mom but with their hormonal and independent older teenaged sisters.
Maybe my mom knew that–for whatever reason she never bought me a Barbie. The only Barbie I had was a birthday gift. I was pretty young. Her head quickly “came off” and I believe I received no help at all in replacing it. So that was the end of that.