Thursday, March 19, 2009

Barbie Dolls

As a little girl, I was into dolls. I used to play dolls a lot with my baby sister. At first we made dolls out of Coke bottles, dressing them up with my mom's scrap fabrics (Mom used to sew our dresses). I remember sewing a dress for our bottle doll one day. But when my dad started traveling to big cities, he would come home with baby dolls for me and my sister. Oh, how we loved them!

Isabelle wasn't really into dolls until last Sunday. Her cousin gave her a Dora doll set. Since then, she got herself busy changing Dora's clothes and shoes. While doing it, she would say lines that she has memorized from Dora tv show. It's fun to see her enjoying her new toy. She had a Dora rag doll but it's not the same as this set she has now.

Speaking of dolls, I know that a lot of my friends buy their little girls barbie dolls. And their daughters have started collecting them. From the beginning barbies didn't fascinate me for some reason. I just find them cute. Last Sunday, driving from my BIL's place in St. Paul, my husband and I were listening to a radio talk show. The host was talking about Barbie dolls and why they have adult features even though they are little girls' toys. There was a lot of complicating views from the listeners making phone calls to the broadcaster.

Watching Isabelle play with her Dora doll set this morning, I decided to do some readings about Barbie dolls. And here is what I have found...

"History: Barbie's Debut in 1959 by Erica Wolf

In February of 1959, Barbie was first introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York (Barbie Dolls). Her creators, Ruth and Elliot Handler (co-founders of Mattel) modeled Barbie after the German doll known as Lilli. Lilli began as a cartoon character in a daily newspaper called the Bild-Zeitung (BillyBoy 19). This character, known for her large breasts and sexy clothing, was created for adult entertainment "a symbol of sex and pornography for the men of Germany" (Johnson "History"). Handler discovered Lilli while shopping in Switzerland and brought the doll home for her daughter to play with.

Ruth was inspired to create an adult doll for little girls. Handler had Jack Ryan, executive of Mattel, purchase the rights for Lilli and negotiate with a company from Tokyo to create a doll like Lilli. The reason for going overseas was in order to create an inexpensive new doll. American male designers told Handler that it would be impossible to make such a doll (with stylish clothing and accessories) for an affordable price. The new doll had a softer look created by the "rotation-molding" process used in the making of the vinyl body (Johnson "History"). In addition to a different body, Bud Westmore, the "make-up czar" at Universal Pictures, gave Lilli a makeover (Lord 32). He discarded her "bee-stung lips, heavy eyelashes, and widow's peek eyebrows" (Lord 32). Following these improvements, Ryan modified the doll's joints.

Finally in 1958, Barbie Millicent Roberts was born 11 1/2 inches tall and weighing 11 ounces. She debuted as a teenage model in a black and white striped swimsuit that came with sunglasses, high-heeled shoes, and gold-colored hoop earrings (see Figure 1). Her body was shapely with movable head, arms, and legs. Barbie was the first doll in America with an adult body.

Just by reading that portion made me feel like throwing up! I would never want my daughter to play with that doll.

Another thing that makes me dislike a barbie doll is that it sets a standard of fake beauty. Girls grow up thinking that they have to have a body figure and shimmering skin like that of a barbie doll to be called beautiful. Barbies became a fashion statement too. Many little girls today have a barbie beauty mentality. How sad! Christian mothers should be very careful about what they give their little daughters. It is important to train our daughters to learn to mirror the Bible for authentic beauty.

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