When I was a little girl, I was just as intrigued by Barbie as all the other girls in the world. Walking down the toy aisle, I would stare at the dolls in awe of their beauty. Until I was at an age to understand differences, I never really thought about the Barbie doll looking any different than me. I didn’t think of Barbie as anything other than a doll. I then started to see her in video games, movies and TV shows, and that changed my perspective of Barbie. The doll became not just a brand, but a lifestyle. I began to see people try to achieve the Barbie look. I realized that I had accepted the fact that she didn’t look like me, but a small part of me wanted to imagine and play pretend with a doll that could actually be me. I ultimately gravitated more towards Bratz dolls, because Sasha and I had similar qualities. Eventually, I abandoned my dolls.
Through this experience, I became mindful of the need for cultural awareness in society. I knew that I couldn’t have been the only girl in the world with the desire to have a doll that shared qualities with me. Because of this, I became interested in learning about and celebrating different cultures at a young age.
Barbie’s legacy began in the late 1950’s when her creator, Ruth Handler, established Mattel. Her daughter’s creativity in playing pretend with paper dolls inspired Ruth. Dolls like Barbie were missing in the market. Handler knew that there was a need for the implementation of a toy that young girls could play with and learn from. Ruth wanted to send a message to girls saying that they can dream big and accomplish big goals. Therefore, she titled Barbie with many different occupations, mostly those with high male dominance.
Mattel turned this doll into a lifestyle by keeping her up to date with the latest social and fashion trends. Barbie having an on and off boyfriend, Ken, emphasizes Barbie’s role in society.
Just as much as Barbie has followed trends, society has also adapted to Barbie’s lifestyle. Barbie is seen as a standard definition of beauty. In earlier years, Barbie came in only two forms: blonde and brunette. Her eyes were painted looking to the side, and she always had puckered red lips. With a changing society, Barbie also changed appearances. She grew longer hair, added a smile, and stared ahead with piercing blue eyes.
Barbie entered into the world during a time where society needed direction. During the Civil Rights movement, Barbie’s real life structure in society mixed with young girls' imagination and influenced little girls into wanting to be just like her.
Barbie has now adapted to society once again. With the drop in sales since 2014, Barbie is offered in an array of different styles and body types. Now girls can celebrate their differences with dolls they can relate to.