The Barbie Phenomenon Essay

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The Barbie Phenomenon

The Barbie phenomenon took the world by storm. The creation of the eleven and one–half-inch tall “glam gal” didn’t begin at a large corporation’s drawing board, as some might think. She actually came straight from the hands of her loving “parents”, Ruth and Elliot Handler. The Mattel Corporation, founded by Ruth and Elliot Handler, has successfully marketed the Barbie doll for over four decades and still continues to sell the doll throughout the world. It is amazing the impact this “child’s toy” has had in both the corporate boardroom and the toy room, and not only on children but also adults. Barbie has brought billons in sales to the bottom line of Mattel, and to adults around the world who have made
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Mr. Mattson’s last name was mixed with Elliot’s to form the company name “Mattel” (Lord 20). With the end of the war came an increase in the use of plastic, and “Mattel Creations” first product, a plastic ukulele called the “Ukedoodle” hit the toy store shelves. The production of this new toy really helped set Mattel’s business in motion. After the ukulele, came a jack-in-the-box, which also brought much revenue to the company. Mattel was so successful that by 1950, the company had compiled a net-worth of nearly a half million dollars (Lord 20). While “Mattel Creations” was busy celebrating the success of their famous ukulele and jack-in-the-box, a designer in Germany was diligently creating his own masterpiece; one that would greatly influence the design of the Barbie doll. A man named Reinhard Beuthien created a cartoon character named Lilli who appeared in the comic section of a German newspaper called Bild Zeitung. Soon after, this one-dimensional character called Lilli was transformed into a three-dimensional doll (“Bad Girl” 1). The doll that Mr. Beuthien produced was eleven and one-half-inches tall, flesh colored and beautifully painted (Lord 25). Her main personality traits included “golddigger, exhibitionist, and floozy” (Lord 25). However, Lilli was basically a sexy, adult male pornographic toy (“Bad Girl” 1)-- not a child’s role model or toy (“Bad Girl” 2). Back in the United States, Ruth

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