Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, I Hate You

Love her or hate her, no one can deny that Barbie dolls are a successful business. Today is Barbie's 50th birthday. She doesn't look like she's aged a day. She's not sagging ANYWHERE. No grays, either. (50th anniversary Barbie pictured above).

That chick's been everywhere and done everything, too. Check out where you can see a gallery of collectible Barbies (I confess, the world culture Barbies are kind of cool).

I personally have had a love-hate relationship with her for most of my life. I've never been much of a doll person, really. Dolls' function for me was to ride my model horses, and that was NOT Barbie's strong suit; her legs would invariably fall off and her skin-tight pants are a PAIN to get on and off to perform emergency hip surgery. I had a few other dolls with rotating hip sockets that rode sometimes, but more often than not my Breyers had imaginary riders (although very real tack and feed, for which cream of wheat and dried grass were great).

Anyway, back to Barbie. Some fun Barbie facts for you:

  • Barbie's had more careers than you have fingers and toes, reportedly more than 80. They include rock star (of course), astronaut and more surprisingly, presidential candidate.
  • Army Barbie was meant to be a sergeant in Desert Storm and came out in 1992.
  • She's sold in 150 nations.
  • If you put Barbie and her buxom and genderless-male pals head to toe (all the ones sold in the last 50 years), they'd circle the earth 7 times.
  • Two of these blondies are sold every SECOND somewhere in the world. Yikes.
  • Barbie didn't make African-American or Hispanic friends till 1980.
  • She has 43 pets including 21 dogs, 12 horses, 3 ponies, 6 cats, a parrot, a chimpanzee, a panda, a lion cub, a giraffe and a zebra. Don't try transporting that chimp over state lines, Barbie. Not legal anymore. And why the heck you have 15 equines, when you cant ride them, and I have none?
  • Her full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. Millicent? No wonder you don't tell.
  • Doll collecting is second only to stamp collecting on the collecting scene.
  • She's had close to one billion fashions made for her, which makes Mattel one of the largest apparel manufacturers in the world (which means this dosen't count off brand clothes, yikes!). Unfortunately, when her clothes get to her new house, nine times out of ten one shoe is lost.
  • Barbie pink is really a color.
  • The first Barbie sold for $3. An original collectible in mint condition has gone for $10,000. Did you save those Barbies you had when you were a kid? Mint condition? All the shoes?
  • She got a belly button in 2000, making her the only person to be born without one, I imagine.
  • If you enlarged Barbie to the size of a normal human, she'd be 7 feet tall, weigh 125 lbs., and have a shape of 32-2o-42. As a result she's been criticized for creating an unrealistic body image as ideal in the minds of millions (billions?) of girls. This didn't happen to me. I'd rather be able to ride a horse (and not be 7 feet tall!).
In closing I'll just say I don't REALLY hate Barbie. I don't particularly care for the unrealistic body image thing, although I don't give it a lot of responsibility for creating the body image problem that exists for women. On the plus side, she has been a lot better than Disney has for portraying women as capable humans who can do just about anything. She gets two thumbs down for the race thing, though (really, Mattel, what took you so long?).


:-) MaryLou said...

You're gonna love this... I was never much of a doll person either. Truth be told, I was (and still am) a tomboy. My Mother fought to turn me into a little lady, so she bought me dolls. One year I received a Barbie doll AND her friend Midge. I didn't really like them because what I had really wanted was a G.I.Joe.

So. What's a child to do? Well, I grabbed one of my Mother's emery boards and carefully sanded off all that eye shadow. Each doll received a brutal haircut. And then, because I didn't like those unsightly bulges underneath the army outfits I made them, I sanded them off.

At some point, my Mother just gave up and bought me trains and trucks.

GetSilvered said...

Ha Ha, You may have already seen this work:
but that's where a lot of those lost shoes end up! :)