Barbie, She’s More Than Just A Doll

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MB Barbie LOGO the fashion doll, was created by a woman called Ruth Handler for the company Mattel in America in 1959. She credits her creation as being inspired from the German doll Bild Lilli, seen below.

Bildlilli

PhotoCredit:  http://www.makingthemodernworld.org.uk/everyday_life/leisure/1939-1968/TL.0022/

Barbie was one of the first toys to use the marketing strategy mostly based on television advertising. This has since been copied by many other toy manufacturers. Mattel claims they sell three Barbies every second, so it is clear that she has become much more than a children’s toy!

In fact, Barbie has been a cultural icon for over fifty years and has not only influenced generations of children who collect and play with the dolls, but also myriad of artists, film makers, and creative visionaries who used the doll as inspiration.

Some claim Barbie is the epitome of femininity, but there has been a lot of controversy over the shape and ratio of the doll’s figure. Many suggest that the proportions of the doll are unhealthy, and go on to say that a life-size Barbie  would be very ill! Thus many people believe that the Barbie doll is a harmful example of an adult female’s body, for the countless amounts of children who play with them.

However, there are many other dolls that are disproportional to an average female body, and leaving that issue aside whatever one’s opinions on that may be, the Barbie dolls do have many good points. Mattel have created Barbie figurines of all different races for children to play with and love, this is a major step forward in the fight against racial prejudice. They portray Barbies in various job roles in their ‘I Can Be’ range; this introduces children to the many careers available to them. Plus placing females in stereotypically male vocations, can only be a good thing for gender equality. NASA has even teamed up with Mattel to create an astronaut Barbie to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Curiosity Rover’s arrival on Mars. The packaging for the Mars Explorer Barbie, is printed with facts about pioneering female astronauts such as Sally Ride, to inspire the next generation.

barbie mars

 

Photo Credit: Mattel

Whatever role Barbie is taking she is always portrayed as a strong independent woman, who can do anything; the ultimate female, how can that be wrong?

It is this iconic feminine status that inspires the many creations associated with Barbie. Andy Warhol, the celebrated artist, captured the essence of Barbie on canvas in 1985. Warhol had an affinity with glamour and was drawn to it; his painting of Marilyn Monroe has become iconic around the world. He once said, “I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re so beautiful. Everything’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.” So it’s no surprise he had a passion for Barbie.

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Photo Credit: Andy Warhol

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Photo Credit: Andy Warhol

Barbie has been seen in countless television and film projects. Most recently she has been seen in the Toy Story films, in Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.

barbie 1Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar

Barbie was also the subject of a catchy pop song aptly named Barbie Girl in the 90’s by Danish-Norwegian group, Aqua. They wrote the song after seeing an exhibit on ‘Kitsch Culture’. To watch the video of Barbie Girl, click here.

Barbie has also entered the fashion industry, with many designers creating their own Barbie fashion for the dolls! Then on the 50th anniversary of her production there were many fashion events to celebrate, one of which included a runway show in New York for the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Many haute couturiers  contributed including Diane von Fürstenberg, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein, Bob Mackie, and Christian Louboutin. Click here to see Christian Loubotin’s collaboration Barbie Doll.

Barbie is an icon; how could I resist such a collaboration?” Louboutin told Vogue magazine.

Other fashion houses have designed their own Barbie, such as Calvin Klein:

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Photo Credit: Mattel

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Christian Dior

 

 

Photo Credit: Mattel

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Juicy Couture

 

 

Photo Credit: Mattel

Plus many more! However, it’s not just haute couture fashion company’s who admire this stylish doll. High street brands such as Miss Selfridge are massive Barbie fans too.

Here are some of my favourite Barbie designs from Miss Selfridge:

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Photo Credits: Miss Selfridge

These items are so cool that even Little Mix member Jade has been spotted wearing them!

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Photo Credit: Adam Johns and FameFlyNet.UK.com

I have sampled some of these items and I have to say not only do they look awesome on, but they fit well and feel soft, even after 20 washes! The colours and images on these items are so bold and feminine, they are totally in keeping with the Barbie theme!

All items come in sizes 4 -16 and are priced from £12 – £28

Go to www.missselfridge.com soon to see their new Barbie range!

Uniqlo also created a Barbie t-shirt range in 2012 which although incredibly popular, is no longer available. Here’s two of their tops:

uniqlo barbie

Photo Credit: Uniqlo

Not only has Barbie successfully infiltrated the fashion industry, the television industry and the film and music industries, she’s even inspired a whole range of cosmetics! In 2007 Mac released their Barbie Loves Mac range, based heavily on a certain stand-out colour.. you guessed it.. It was pink! Lots and lots of pink!

barbie mac       barbie-loves-mac

Photo Credit: MAC

In conclusion,whether you love or hate her, it’s clear to see that Barbie has been a huge inspiration to so many in the art and fashion world and although I personally would prefer Barbie’s figure to represent a healthier female form, I believe that the doll has created far more good for our children than harm. I wear my very fashionable, Barbie vest top (by Miss Selfridge) with pride!

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I would like to thank all those who sent me samples to assemble this article.