Barbie has raised eyebrows since her debut at the 1959 Toy Fair. Modeled after the German Bild Lilli novelty doll, Barbie provided girls a playroom outlet for their dreams and aspirations. Inventor Ruth Handler knew that girls wanted to play at more than being a mother to life-sized baby dolls, but Mattel executives were skeptical. In the end, Handler was right and had the sales numbers to prove it. Little girls all over the country wanted to play at being a grown-up.
The fact that Barbie was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed grown-up with a full bust and tiny waist soon drew the ire of the second wave of the women’s movement in the 1960s. Barbie appeared to present the societal standard of the pretty, vapid model of what all girls should strive to be—namely, easy on the eyes, obsessed with fashion, and white. She appeared to represent everything that the feminist and the black empowerment movements were fighting against—a perfectly-packaged bogeyman.