Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Style Icon: Ruth Handler and The Fabulous Story of Barbie

“Barbie has always represented that a woman has choices. Even in her early years, Barbie did not have to settle for only being Ken’s girlfriend or an inveterate shopper. She had the clothes, for example, to launch a career as a nurse, a stewardess, a nightclub singer. I believe the choices Barbie represents helped the doll catch on initially, not just with daughters - who would one day make up the first major wave of women in management and professionals – but also with mothers.” - Ruth Handler

The First Barbie - Teen Age Fashion Doll (1959)
The story of Ruth Handler is one that few people know. Yet we know who Barbie is but we do not know the fabulous woman behind the fabulous doll. Without much effort one can assume that the doll, like most children's toys was a fantasy created by money hungry men. This is not the case in the creation of Barbie which in turn launched the spotlight onto a toy company, Mattel Creations that Ruth and Elliott handler co-founded 15 years earlier.

The idea of the fabulous Barbie doll came from an instance where Ruth was watching her daughter, Barbara and her friends playing with paper dolls. The girls played and imagined the dolls in a variety of roles such as career women, students, cheerleaders and athletes. It was in that instant that Ruth decided she wanted to make a doll that would be better choice for girls to play with.
Ruth Handler and Mattel Creations exhibited the first Barbie, the Teen-Age Fashion Model, Barbara Millicent Roberts, at the annual Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959. Buyers where wary that this new doll would be successful as she was nothing like the typical popular baby and toddler dolls. Barbie was a doll with an adult body design based on the Bild Lilli doll Ruth Handler acquired in Switzerland. The first Ken Doll, Barbie Doll’s boyfriend, Ken Doll, made his debut in 1961, two years after Barbie.
To many Ruth Handler is a revolutionary woman and Style Icon responsible for creating one of the world's most significant icons, Barbie. Not only did she create a woman capable of doing the impossible for all girls to look up to she further went on to invent a breast prothesis, Nearly Me, which is still in use today. For any little girl that thinks that nothing can be accomplished, she should find inspiration in the idea that a woman created an empire with a single idea for a doll. That in itself is what makes the fabulous story of Ruth Handler and Barbie remarkable and inspiring.
Did you own a Barbie as a little girl or boy? Or as an adult? 
Barbie by Tyler Shields for The Dirty Side of Glamour c/o
Is this how you play with your dolls, Kens and Dolls? 

Kisses, m.

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