Barbie is Actually a Feminist

During my childhood, I loved playing with Barbies. I begged my mom for Barbie’s Dream House and would spend hours dressing up my dolls and setting up scenes. In fact, most girls I speak to also have very fond memories of playing with their own Barbies. Playing pretend with the dolls helped foster our imaginations and creativity. The movies entertained us for hours, retelling our favorite fairy tales and ballets. Even the computer games had me dressing up virtual dolls and introduced many young girls to the world of video games. It’s something that we, as women, can connect with and reminisce about.

Barbie has received much animosity since her creation in 1959. This is mostly due to her unrealistic and unachievable looks. Many think this is an unhealthy ideal for young girls to be exposed to. However, I believe Barbie is a feminist icon. If you take your focus off her body and consider what she did as a woman and a role model. She was invented by a woman and was successful on her own in many different fields. Throughout the years, the Barbie brand has even evolved to become even more inclusive with their new line of dolls, representing more than just white feminism.

Unbeknownst to some, the classic Barbie doll was thought up by Ruth Handler. She wanted to make a toy that would serve as a role model for her daughter, Barbara. She pitched the idea to Mattel, where her husband worked, but was originally turned down. Then, on a trip to Germany, she found Bild Lilli, an adult figured doll and exactly what Ruth wanted in her doll. She brought it back to America and pitched her idea to Mattel again. This time they took it, and Ruth designed the first Barbie doll.

Since her creation, Barbie has played a plethora of roles, from surfer to veterinarian to princess. Her dolls came with accessories, allowing young girls to play the role Barbie was portraying. She showed girls everywhere that they can be anything they want. We must assume she was successful in her endeavors because she could afford her two-story, talking dream house and her bright pink, convertible dream car. She did not depend on that freeloader boyfriend Ken for any of it, either. Barbie was a strong, independent woman who never needed a man from the very beginning.

If you can get past her looks, it’s easy to see Barbie is truly a feminist icon and a role model to young girls. Ruth Handler invented her to be that role model and would be proud to see how far Barbie has come in that aspect. She has played many roles in both her toys and movies, showing girls like me that we can anything we want. The new line dolls, made to be inclusive and represent a wider variety of individuals, just extends what Barbie is all about: women being able to do whatever they put their minds to.

Image Source: thumbnail, 1, 2