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Barbie: Then and Now

             See if you can name this person. She's an astronaut, business woman, world cup player, dentist, doctor, ballerina, and presidential candidate. She drives a Volkswagon, has a steady boyfriend, and owns a horse. Give up? It's Barbie, almost every little girl's favorite doll. It's hard to believe that this little superstar actually started out as a human being!.
             The Barbie legend began back in 1959. Ruth Handler was watching her daughter, Barbara, and her friends play. While Ruth watched, she noticed that her daughter and friends did not like to play with baby dolls as much as they preferred to play with dolls that looked more grown up and more like the sophisticated women around them. An idea sparked in Ruth's mind. She sensed that girls use dolls to act out future, rather than current roles, and that it was just as important for girls to imagine what they might grow up to become as it was for them to focus on what caring for children might be like. So, why not create a three dimensional doll that was everything a little girl could dream of being? .
             The original Barbie doll was based not only on Ruth Handler's daughter, but on a German doll by the name of Lilli. The shapely Lilli doll wore skimpy clothes and seductive makeup. Handler decided that the Barbie doll should have the same physical build as the Lilli doll, but with more teenage innocence and potential. Mattel toy company backed Handler's idea, and the first patent for Barbie was obtained in 1958. She would be 11 1/2 inches tall, wear a ponytail hairstyle, a black and white zebra swimming suit, earrings and sunglasses. She would have red nails and lips. The Barbie Doll appeared at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959. At first the doll did not appeal to toy stores because of it's figure. Toy stores assumed that parents would not know how to deal with giving their child a doll with adult features. However, the dolls immediately caught on to the public and were sold for three dollars a piece.

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