The detail of a Barbie torso reveals thin arms barely connected and a pinched waist that is as exaggeratedly thin as the Venus of Willendorf is fat. Barbie has prominent breasts and impossibly tiny feet. Modeled after a 1950’s sex toy, the Lilli, made for men in Germany, the Barbie doll met with some wariness in American mothers. My own mother refused to let my sister and I have one. Created in 1959, three years before I was born, the Barbie by Mattel was the first 3-dimensional adult doll made for children. In the first year alone Mattel sold 300,000! Since then the vinyl doll has been in robust production. The company notes that in the 1990's two Barbies were sold every second world wide. Perhaps you have one?
One evening when I was five, our babysitter gave us her whole collection, which included a wardrobe, etc. and we convinced our mother we couldn't not accept the gift.
My Barbie came with a tiny book titled, How to Lose Weight. Inside it’s only recommendation was “Don’t eat”.
I was enthralled by her long blond hair, her wide eyes, her perfect ski-jump nose and her impossibly tiny feet and waist. She was my Venus. She was the epitome of female beauty. The problem was when I looked in the mirror I saw a dark haired, dark eyed girl of Jewish descent. I got my Barbie...and that was probably the beginning of internalizing the shortcomings of my own body.