Happy 60th birthday to Barbie!
Launched at the New York Toy Fair at a price of $3.00 way back in 1959, today’s Barbie dolls have taken new shapes, sizes, colors, and careers into their stride. While Barbie has often been criticized, the original vision for Barbie – to encourage girls to think about their futures – still holds today. The doll’s original figure (tall, busty, Caucasian) is also still around, but it has also been broadened and diversified to fit today’s girls and society.
Today’s Barbie dolls include four different body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles, and an extensive wardrobe of clothes, accessories, houses, and cars. Barbie has had dozens of careers. She is not only a fashionista, she embraces careers such as actress, politicians, doctors, athletes, artists, journalists, mountaineers, activists, astronauts, teachers, and more. There simply is no limit to what Barbie – and girls – can accomplish. Barbie is equally at home in a robotics lab as she is on a farm.
And now Barbie is also taking on gender gap in The Dream Gap Project. Beginning at age five, many girls develop limiting beliefs about themselves and what they can accomplish. By age seven, girls are more likely to think that boys are smarter than girls. Barbie is taking this on by showing role model dolls who illustrate what is possible.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the product life cycle.
- Where does Barbie fit in the life cycle?
- How does the toy remain relevant?
- Show video of Barbie history: https://youtu.be/DXFVaYTI3uQ
- Show Barbie Web site: https://barbie.mattel.com/en-us/about/role-models.html?icid=home_body-2_module_role-models_p1
- Show the Dream Gap Project site: https://barbie.mattel.com/en-us/about/dream-gap.html
- Divide students into team. What else can Mattel do with Barbie?
Source: Klara, R. (25 February 2019). Here’s how much Barbie has changed since her debut almost 60 years ago.