I was born in 1958. Barbie was introduced to the world by Mattel in 1959. Although her extreme beauty and fantastic proportions introduced girls early on to the insecurity of setting standards of beauty no girl could possibly achieve growing up, Barbie became an immediate sensation. My Barbie dolls from the '60s and '70s aren't worthy as collector's items - they have been far too active, having lived lives full of adventure. My Barbies lived hard, surviving as many adventures as the Perils of Pauline. Their hair being shorn is the least of their problems, though I noticed every single one has a bad haircut. They've been run over, kidnapped, drowned, dragged behind runaway horses, buried in avalanches, shot out of rockets; one poor girl parachuted from the sky into an active volcano.
Ken was always just her sidekick. Too effeminate to be taken seriously as a boyfriend, my girls were always attracted to G.I. Joe; real men, who managed to rescue her from pygmies or a failed space-station, or would be her covert-op during one of her many spy adventures. (I was spy-obsessed, never missing an episode of I SPY, Get Smart, The Avengers, Man from U.N.C.L.E., or a James Bond movie. I loved playing a spy, and resuscitated an old brief case of dad's for my attache case full of the latest weaponry).
If Barbie were life-size, she would be 5'6" and weigh 110 pounds. So far so good. However, her measurements would be 39-18-33. Yikes. I'm 5'8" -- the last time I weighed 110 lbs I was 33 years old. My waist was 18 only when I was 15 yrs old. But, I choose to focus on the positives of emulating Barbie. She was my one-and-only 'adult' doll, and taught me that using your head (as long as it didn't pop out of your neck for a quick replacement), along with feminine wiles, could be a powerful combination. (All you feminists can recoil in horror now).
My Barbie was always as smart as a rocket scientist (hey, a girl can dream). And even though she was a tomboy like me, she sported a fabulous wardrobe. (In fact, Barbie has 20 million dresses, many by big-name designers, making Mattel the world's largest fashion manufacturer). Some of my favorite clothes were handmade by my grand moms, though.
Barbie began her many careers as a model, but by the '60s she had become an astronaut, a flight attendant (this seems quite a come-down from astronaut), travel agency owner, doctor. Rock star, TV personality, Olympic finalist, and in '86, an astronaut again. What I liked best about Barbie was the effortless way she incorporated the fantasies and dreams of her owners, who had far more varied professions for her than that. (Equestrian high jumper, anyone?)
Barbie has always had fabulous homes -- penthouses, vacation homes, 'dream' houses. She has owned a Ferrari (cherry red), Corvette (pink), Jeep (white, I think), as well as other cars, and a Vespa.
Her best friend is Midge (always hated that name), she remains close with her little sister, Skipper, and she's always been an animal lover. She's had five horses, a poodle, afghan hound, two puppies, a cat, and a parrot. She even befriended a giraffe while on a safari in 1989.
Barbie remains ageless, 18 forever, unlike her many admirers. My childish dreams where she was the heroine and catalyst of many fantasies helped shape my dreams. Maybe certain feminists disagree, but I say long live Barbie. She was always a fun girlfriend. And despite her voluptuous proportions, she looks healthier than those slightly anemic-looking Bratz dolls, who remind me uncomfortably of the big sad-eyed children in the pictures that were so popular in the '70s.