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The rise of a star: Barbie©.

The rise of a star: Barbie©.
The rise of a star: Barbie©.

Barbie© is a 29cm-tall doll, that was first sold in 1959 by Ruth Handler, of Mattel, an American toy and game company founded in 1945 by Harold Matson and Elliot Handler, from which the company got its name: Mat+Ell = Mattel. Ruth Handler, Elliot Handler's wife, created Barbie (named after their daughter Barbara) basing her designs on Bild Lilli, a German doll with an adult's body, blonde hair, and a modern wardrobe, who was the prototype of the fashion doll.

The first appearance of this doll, that is to say, replacing a child’s doll with that of a woman’s, signalled the start of a new era in the socialisation of girls. The aim was to provide girls with an adult doll in whose image they could project themselves. She was first unveiled to the industry dressed in a striped swimming suit, and created an uproar as a result, but children immediately adopted her. This doll with an ample bosom, thin waist and long legs was the polar opposite of the round and asexual style of the period's dolls.

Although the Barbie© doll has long blonde hair and Caucasian features, her hair colour and ethnicity were considerably diversified from 1967 onwards, and more systematically since 1980, so much so, in fact, that there is now a Barbie© doll for almost every one of the world's ethnic groups. She has many occupations, such as: doctor, teacher, jockey, veterinarian, stewardess, knight, First Lady, etc. The doll birthed an entire world filled with other dolls, as well as objects, accessories and equipment of all kinds, all made of plastic, ranging from roller skates to computers, makeup kits, yachts, "dream houses", etc. Barbie© is presented in various scenarios, constantly updated according to current trends and the times!!

Although  Barbie© was made entirely from PVC at first, she became more complex with time: EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) arms, an ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) torso, joints made from PP (polypropylene), not to mention the various materials used for the hair, the eyes, the clothing and the many accessories!
Mattel sold its billionth Barbie© doll in 1997. In late 2015, for the first time ever, a young boy appeared in one of the brand's advertisements for the Barbie© doll dressed by Italian brand Moschino. The advertisement made the news around the world and was critically acclaimed, and the Moschino Barbie© soon sold out. In 2016, faced with dwindling sales of the Barbie© doll, Mattel went one step further in diversifying its product by launching three new silhouettes; one of the new silhouettes, christened "Curvy", portrayed a curvier woman whose silhouette was quite different from that of the original Barbie©.

A product of the 1950s, and a triumph of the 1980s, the Barbie© doll has adjusted to every decade as it is first and foremost the symbol of a consumer society that can recycle all trends, even those that seem the most advanced. The Barbie© "revolution" is also that of a society that is increasingly unable to distinguish the fake from the real.



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