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Barbie’s 50th birthday approaches

Filed by Lucire staff/January 29, 2009/5.02

Above: The late Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator, admires her creation at its 40th anniversary celebration at F. A. O. Schwarz in New York, March 9, 1999. At the time, two Barbie dolls were sold per second.

Mattel’s Barbie doll celebrates its 50th anniversary on March 9, 2009.
   Barbie was launched at the New York Toy Fair on March 9, 1959, named after the daughter of Ruth Handler, president of Mattel. It was inspired by the Bild Lilli doll, which had become famous in Germany earlier in the 1950s, which Mrs Handler saw during a trip to Switzerland.
   Mattel has been reaching out to the fashion press, with one of the press release quotations reading, ‘Inspiring over four generations of women and girls, at any given moment in history Barbie is a reflection of the times and always culturally relevant. She is on-trend and classic. She is always distinctly, unapologetically … Barbie.’
   Do readers have any Barbie memories they would care to share? Is she a harmless toy or a harmful icon? A toy that helps girls aspire, or one that holds them to an unfair ideal?

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  • Connie Rogers Frostenson

    As girls growing up in the 60’s we lived with the adventures we created as my best friends Debbie, Mary Pat and myself played with our Barbie’s. One Barbie with tight black or blond hair, not the hundreds of theme Barbie’s that were later created. Hours of making clothing, building Barbie furnature out of cardboard and letting our imaginations run wild. Our brothers would make fun of us as they would attempt to abduct Barbie to tease us. Even the Barbie board game. It was fancy of simple and we didn’t think less of ourselves.

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