Constructing the Past


Many researchers of Barbie are either entirely positive or negative in their outlook on the purpose of the doll. Some claim that Barbie was created for girls to have an imaginative outlet, but others say that Barbie was meant to confine and restrict women within a certain role. Many agree with the creator, Ruth Handler, that Barbie was a symbol of the independent woman; however, others believe she was limited to a traditional woman’s place in the 1950s and 1960s. Using Barbie novels published in the early 1960s, which have been analyzed by only few authors, and other primary and secondary sources, I will attempt to write a balanced history of the intentions behind the creation of Barbie while discussing the difficulty of determining the truth behind her creation.