Barbie Doll Criticism

Bild Lilli - Barbie Ancestor from Germany Ruth, while in Germany, along with her children, who happened to be named Barbara and Kenneth and whom the dolls would eventually be named after (Barbie and Ken), she stumbled a cross a doll by the name Bild Lilli. The Bild Lilli was a doll very similar in nature to the one rejected by Ruth's husband and Mattel's board of directors. This doll was adult in appearance and was revolutionary in many ways because Bild Lilli was an independent, working woman, both rare attributes for a woman during the mid 1950s. Though the target audience for this doll was adults, it became an instant hit amongst kids. Their ability to dress up the doll in different outfits, appealed to young kids.

Ruth would eventually begin to work with Jack Ryan, an engineer, to re-design the doll. It would be named in honor of her daughter, Barbie and was included in the American International Toy Fair in 1959. 350,000 Barbies were sold that first year. There wasn't, however, without a great deal of criticism. Many parents weren't pleased with Barbie's adult body, particularly her chest.

Barbie Doll adult loook - Barbie in a swimming suit

One criticism that continues to be leveled at Barbie is the unrealistic body image it gives young girls. Barbie's proportions are almost impossible to attain and certainly not possible to do so in a healthy manner. A real woman with bodily proportions identical to Barbie would be classified as anorexic. Young girls that grow up playing with Barbie dolls may thus lack self-esteem because their own bodies don't measure up to Barbie's pretend body.

Even with all of the controversy, Barbie has gone on to become one the world's best selling toys and 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of all things Barbie. A fashion show was given in her honor and some of the world's most notable designers contributed pieces.

Last modified: April 13 2012

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