The Evolution of the Female Action Figure: A Journey from Doll to Hero

Barbie Begins

The first Barbie doll debuted from Mattel on March 9, 1959. Based off of the German doll, Lilli, Barbie was a blonde bombshell with a slim figure and became a fashionable, cultural icon very fast. 

After speculation and raised awareness, Mattel released their first African American Barbie doll, "Colored Francie," in 1967. Using the same mold as the original Barbie, Francie was critiqued for not having characteristics of an African American woman leading to the release of Christie in 1968.

In comparing Barbie's body to that of a realistic woman, Barbie to scale would be 5'9, 120 pounds, have a waist of 18 inches with a chest of 36 inches, and be a mere 17% body fat, prohibiting her body to many normal functions of a menstruating woman. 

With these measurements in mind, there have been a lot of controversies with the image that Barbie portrays. Being a doll that very young girls are exposed to early on in their lives as a role model, Barbie gives an unrealistic portrayal of body expectations that are unachievable and unhealthy. Not only are the looks of Barbie degrading, but earlier dolls came with props that encouraged eating disorders like a scale that was set at 110 pounds as well as the guide "How To Lose Weight" which inside instructed girls to not eat. Along with this has come "Barbie Syndrome" which entails those who try to lead a life that Barbie would live while simultaneously trying to achieve the entire look of Barbie, a very distorted lifestyle.


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