Barbie: The world’s greatest influencer? | DW Documentary

Barbie: The world’s greatest influencer? | DW Documentary

Barbie: The world’s greatest influencer? | DW Documentary

She’s available in all skin colors, she’s diverse and inclusive. Created by businesswoman Ruth Handler, unveiled in New York in 1959, Barbie’s long been a money-maker. With millions of followers on Instagram, she’s now an influencer, too.

The documentary dives into the world of Barbie content creators, meets the most famous collector (who owns 18,500 dolls), and speaks to fans and feminists. Barbie: the first doll with her own career. Still, she’s an object of love and hate. More than any other toy.

Barbie was a president and an astronaut, long before reality caught up. More recently, Barbie starred in her very own Hollywood movie, putting the whole world in pink Barbie fever. But what few people know: Barbie was invented in the 1950s by an ambitious businesswoman named Ruth Handler, an American immigrant with Jewish-Polish heritage. Together with her husband and a friend, Handler founded the toy company Mattel.

On a trip to Europe, she discovered a doll: Lilli, sold by a major tabloid newspaper. For the first time, Handler set eyes on an adult doll with her own style. Handler immediately recognized the sales potential. Up to that point, girls were limited to playing with baby dolls that served to prepare them for motherhood.

Barbie was unveiled at the 1959 New York toy fair. Mattel sold around 350,000 in the first year alone. The Barbie universe was born. The concept was coherent and economical. And, as a woman with her own house, her own car and her own career, Barbie caused a furor.

With millions of followers on Instagram, now she’s an influencer too. Many successful women have found eternal life as a Barbie figure. Most recently, the German marine biologist Antje Boetius. This documentary sheds light on the phenomenon known as Barbie.

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Video Transcript

[Applause] Forever young forever beautiful Barbie so blonde so perfectly styled so super slim with the longest legs in the world no one looks like her no doll has ever made a career in so many jobs even in traditionally male ones then there’s her companion in not really worth the mention but somehow

Always at her side Barbie wouldn’t be Barbie if she wasn’t always ahead of her time diversity of Course Hi my name is ausa I live in West Hollywood California I’m a Barbie Influencer Barbie is an ion that just Ault for kids to me Barbie is a great role model inspiration lifestyle and an attitude maybe I could live without her but with Barbie my life is trillion times better Barbie fans are fans for life patina Dorfman is something of a Barbie

Guru she owns the world’s largest collection and is even in the Guinness Book of Records $18,500 dolls spanning the decades the dorf native knows the history of the long-legged blonde like no other she’s been passionate about Barbie since childhood I used to play with her all

The time as a child we only wanted Barbies and that’s how it all started then I packed it all away and later unpacked it for my daughter but she didn’t want it then I realized that she’s such a reflection of her time and that’s when I started to buy replacement

Parts for ones that were broken the special thing about Barbie was that she was actually a dressup doll like a paper dress up doll back then only threedimensional there wasn’t that much money to buy new outfits it wasn’t a throwaway Society I would say we were more sustainable back then than we are

Today things were altered and passed on and fixed by hand and that also worked very well with Barbie Barbie you’re beautiful you make me Feelie the history of Barbie goes back to the 1950s barely on the market she was already a bestseller for little girls a hero had been born the first influencer Ruth Handler Barbie’s Creator it’s the story of a successful businesswoman but wait first things first it All Began in sunny

California Ruth was from a Polish Jewish immigrant family and grew up with nine siblings in high school she met Elliot who would become a product designer and her husband and business partner Ruth was clever and ambitious with Elliot and a mutual friend she founded the Mattel company the first products were wooden picture

Frames and doll houses Ruth was great in sales the company grew quickly and soon the Handler family could afford expensive vacations to Europe in 1956 they went to lern There her daughter spotted an unusual doll in the shop window Ruth was electrified she’d never seen anything like it a doll beautiful grown up with its own style she immediately realized the potential and bought it Ruth was a toy designer a toy marketer she had a daughter named

Barbara she didn’t like the options that her her daughter had in terms of dolls they were baby dolls for nurturing play and Ruth wanted more Options endless legs super slim with a cinched waist that’s Lily a product from the German tabloid build with her runchy punch lines Lily was the star of the paper’s daily cartoon She was sassy sexy and confident Ruth acted quickly she was certain that with Lily she’d hit the jackpot of the toy industry my of Ruth Handler is defin as I see it Ruth handler was clearly Progressive for her time she saw this doll in the shop window and

Thought that’s what I want to make so she said to it implemented her business idea and brought a doll to Market she said every little girl needs a doll to project herself into her dreams for the Future and so Barbie was born Ruth Handler borrowed the name from her own daughter Barbara she worked feverishly with designers and fashion professionals on the new model Ruth knew from the start Barbie would not be a simple doll Barbie was to have a life a job and

Dreams I think it was very Progressive for the time if you really look at the context in which this Doll came to market after all it was the first adult doll before that little girls only ever played with baby dolls and that was somehow preparing them for a mother

Role Barbie was the first doll that had its own life did its own thing and could be whatever the child Wanted Barbie was launched as a test and was presented at the Toy Fair USA on March 9th was an instant hit and sold out immediately in the first year over 300,000 Barbies were sold Ruth Handler is good at getting her message across and within a few years Mattel had become a wellestablished toy

Maker the international Toy Fair in nurburg this is where decision are made on the toys of the future with enormous sales potential children’s toys never go out of fashion but they always have to be reinvented Mattel has had one of the largest stands here for years the Barbie universe is now Infinite The Starlight Fairy Barbie a hairdo from Barbie of Swan Lake a Barbie mermaid and then a couple of normal classic Barbies so they were good at moving with the times and of course they also understood the diversity movement I’m standing in front of our fashionistas line which is the most

Diverse doll line in the world we are big Believers in the expression if you can see it you can be it we celebrate the fact that Barbie’s had over 250 careers she can do anything that means you can do anything as a as a child when

You grow up so really proud of the way the brand is representing such positive role models for girls Mattel has done a lot to bring Barbie’s ideals to the world the company skillfully combined business marketing and the founders cause of female empowerment every year the company honors women with outstanding

Careers Barbie is an empowerment Ambassador for Barbie the era of old white men’s dominance ended decades ago she has succeeded nearly every industry for the science Barbies she’s the celebrity Jane goodle is the model here she’s a scientist who spent her life researching how similar apes are to

Us how are we related how do apes live she’s a role model and you can play the researcher she’s really changed how we view Apes the other role model of course and it’s really very important is the astronaut so women who explore space Samantha Christo forti is the role

Model here and she herself is an astronaut she’s now a commander and that’s just so cool as a girl I too can dream of being in space doing research there the question who can be an astronaut still throws up the biggest gender gap today girls are five six

Years old when they draw astronauts they draw men and not women and I think this toy can change that there’s one thing you can’t accuse Barbie of despite debuting in the 1950s she’s never been that Year’s stereotypical housewife right from the start Barbie has been a working woman an

Astronaut a surgeon no job is beyond her and the fact that she’s always freshly coed and super slim enviable on the one hand you have this progressiveness the career the first adult doll but on the other this beauty ideal that Barbie embodies which is completely unrealistic and can also have

Negative effects on little girls I think it was her blonde hair that did it for me as a child I wanted to be blonde for a very very long time and I begged mother to let me dye my hair blonde even though I was I don’t know 6 or S years

Old and I think that had something to do with Barbie she was the absolute ideal for me naturally blonde the beauty ideal of the 1950s blonde meant Angelic virtuous and sexy the typical Marilyn Monroe snub nose and cinched waist the perfect look when girls say yes I want to be

Like my barie I don’t think most parents pick up on it and say oh that’s a problem and we have to think about it talk about what it means instead it’s totally downplayed and that’s what sets the first Norms the first boundaries and the first ideas of what a body should look

Like so for me Barbie isn’t at all misogynistic because she’s living her life to the Fullest the origin of the Barbie doll was after all a caricature and that’s why Barbie had these long exaggerated legs and that look but actually I always thought of her as a dress Maker’s doll the long legs were good for gripping it’s very important that you can play

With a toy and back in 59 when the first Barbie we came onto the market it was fashionable to wear high pumps so that’s why Barbie stands on her tiptoes in this display case a bit lower we have the first half of the 60s you can see that the dresses are mostly Cut

Above the knee this thick eyeliner was totally in the ponytail the puffy hairstyles these are the typical looks that people had at the time the everchanging Barbie world a logical and economical concept batina Dorfman is not only an expert and super collector she’s also a doll doctor because Barbie is now valuable as

A collector’s item this is a bubble cut from the early 60s it’s very common that the little finger is missing that’s because it’s separate and often got caught in the Hem of clothing or children like to chew on it we have to wait until it boils of course toys are there to be

Used and I think it’s really nice to give these aging toys a new lease on life doll repairs come in so regularly that I actually have something to do every day the collectors are always bringing Their fines to the fairs I also get small Parcels sent to me to make it Worthwhile So I start by just combing out the hair then of course I have to take another look here okay this is one with a part there are some with a part and some without the hair is always woven circularly you have to make sure to keep that Direction a royal reception for Britain’s top Mini model whose professional name is Twiggy yes at the very beginning we only had the doll and fashion they followed the latest fashions closely and the first celebrity doll was Twiggy that was the very first one she was very slim and she had her own special Wardrobe the celebrity Barbie Was Born Dolls based on real life models adult role models for girls we noticed that in 2021 women made up only 15.5% of workers in the stem sector in Germany which is a real shame and that’s why we at Barbie have made it our

Mission to show young girls in particular more female role models in this area even as a child I couldn’t get enough of my grandfather’s seaf firing stories I knew even then that when I grew up I wanted to be on the water being a pirate wasn’t an option so I

Asked myself what’s Plan B I didn’t realize at the time that explorers Pirates and sailors were actually always men [Applause] yeah this is our one-of-a-kind Barbie which we give to special women as a sign that it’s so important to be a role model especially for young girls have

Fun with your little mini me of course the aim is to give young girls great role models I’ve been involved in the dream Gap project for quite a while now in the beginning I was reluctant because I thought Mattel plastic toys Marine research no way then the objectification

Of women physical insecurities that’s a no-o too so I speak to other women who were totally against women being defined by our bodies and they say dream Gap is a good project go for it so to sum up you could say there are big problems and small problems and one of the world’s

Biggest problems is that so many girls grow up without access not just to toys but also to dreams a career in science Fashion sports or politics Barbie knows what she wants it’s about being daring enough to do anything cha Fogle former Olympic cycling Champion is a Barbie Ambassador

Today I had an accident in 2018 since then I’ve been a paraplegic it was the way I dealt with the accident showing that even if you’ve had rotten luck you don’t have to sit at home and get depressed you can still enjoy life that’s why I got the Barbie the female

Role model award I always say what we can’t see we can’t aspire to toys and parenting are so influential and it’s important to in diversity from the very beginning Barbie’s World expands as social changes become apparent the key words today are diversity and inclusion in 2023 Barbie launched a doll with Down

Syndrome I love it so when I first saw the bobie I was like what the heck a bit of a round let’s say like thrilled she looks glamorous gorgeous pretty darling and she is perfect like me and I perfect like Her what do children have to say about Diversity I think it’s actually quite good so that other girls who play with Barbie learn that there are other people who don’t look like them and look a bit different but that it’s not a bad thing so I think it’s good that more are being made now because it’s not nice if

You leave someone out or call them names just because they’re different not every person can be the same and it be weird if everybody was the [Applause] same the problem is that even though we now have these Barbie dolls in wheelchairs with skin disorders and prosthesis it will take a long time to catch on because it will be a very long time before the same number of these dolls are in Households I think what fascinated me most about her was that I could dress her whatever way I wanted once she had this really really long dress but it was removable then I dressed her in a short skirt I think and in general what fascinated me so much about the whole

Barbie Universe was simply that I could do anything I wanted I could shape it as I pleased I could travel with her so to speak wherever I wanted and I think that’s what I like the most that she and I could sort of choose it ourselves better turn in Yellow Stone

Kelly good night okay time to wake Up this is the best for the July ever I’m so glad you decided to take us camping Barbie no no you forced me to take you camping camping the only decision I’ve actively made for this 4th of July is to get Star Spangled hammered uh-huh can we go home early like now

Suck it up skipper sometimes you got to do stuff you don’t like in order to make people think you’re a nice sister I don’t care about looking nice yeah I got that from your outfit hi I’m Sim and I’m Mickey and a lot of you guys have been

Asking us how we make our barie sets so we’re going to show you today that we make out Bobby set Yeah Sam and Mickey Barbie lovers from Australia since 2010 the two friends have been enthusiastic directors of Short Stop Motion films satirical and pointed Barbie is always the Boss personally I guess growing up for me she was everything she was the epitome of play and Imagination what whatever I wanted to do whatever I wanted to be I could be that through Barbie I could make her be a wonderful housem maker I could make her be a like

A heroine and fight crime it was so Limitless what you could do with her and what you could imagine with her she could feel entire days weeks worth of play and you’d never get bored because there was there was always some different scenario you could imagine you

Could build some other world that you could you could you know enter into with her the concept is clever children create their own Adult World become the directors of their individual fantasies play out their dream life it was only supposed to be a dressup doll at first and then the whole

Thing developed so you could do role plays you took the doll with you everywhere could act out stories with her and you could create these worlds with equipment and accessories that was also something special so Barbie is always up to dat but what if the changes in society don’t

Quite suit her back to the 1960s a new movement for women’s Liberation is launched and once again protesters take to the street to support their demands for total freedom economically politically Socially feminism and Barbie H being independent was great but what was all this talk about my body my choice thin and sexy was perfect why change it career yes but a thicker waist absolutely not visually everything should stay as it was fashion was the Barbie trademark here

She was fully in step with the times the 1960s the70s the 80s mini skirts bell bottoms aerobic outfits but her body measurements remained a constant extra extra extra small the criticism got louder suddenly Barbie was the epitome of patriarchal fantasies what could be done Barbie needed a community

At first there was only the Barbie doll and that was such a big success so then they produced other characters too to keep Barbie company fluff is a friend of Skipper this is Skipper here Skipper is Barbie’s sister and PJ and Christy for example are also friends so those are their roles because

Barbie doesn’t have children she has either girlfriends cousins or siblings colored Francy came onto the market in 1967 Mattel’s first black doll she was Mattel’s response to the Civil Rights Movement the struggle Against Racism was increasingly visible on the streets equal rights for all the social shift didn’t go unnoticed at Mattel

Francy was a black version of a Caucasian frany made with the same mold originally blackhaired over the years her hair often oxidized and turned red many considered the first was not Francy at all rather adult named black Barbie which came out in 1980 diversity or Business of course Matel is a business so how can we sell even more dolls and at the same time create representation for all the bipo children in the country who wouldn’t identify with a white Doll today black representation in the Barbie world is much broader black Barbie’s physical traits have also changed distinguishing them from White Barbies gradually variations were introduced in Barbie’s appearance and cultural characteristics became more visible in Los Angeles the new prototypes of the the dolls are designed and produced by hand using 3D technology everything is still made of plastic but 90% of it is recycled plastic as Mattel repeatedly

Emphasizes the afro has long found a place in Barbie’s hairstyle collection we just do it here this way because this is this is how we’ve done it for so long and it’s like how we create like hand create each one it’s just these machines are so so amazing it’s the endless development of

Barbie variations that Mattel relies on today but the very first Barbie remains present the original Barbie is an important part of our history and it’s still a continuing part of the line but today there are over 175 different types of Barbies so we’re going to continue to

Evolve we’re going to continue to make sure that we’re reflecting the world the kidy around them religion had never been Barbie’s thing but in 2018 it was time Mattel launched the first Barbie with a head scarf these outfits however were created a year before that by an artist from

Nigeria bar a doll or rather an attitude towards life over the years Barbie has become more than just a toy it has been a symbol of um feminity it’s an icon and it has served as a source of inspiration for millions of girls all over the world

Including me I don’t really know what I don’t like about Barbie Barbie is fun hanifa Adam calls her project hijabi combination of hijab and Barbie the Nigerian wants to expand the barie universe with Muslim designs and she posts her Creations on Instagram what sets um apart my content and my

Channel apart from the others is that I wear hijab for my Barbie Ana’s project is controversial but her aim is clear to counter Prejudice and to empower Muslim girls who wear head scarves there are different kind of diverse girls all over around the world and when I was going through Barbie

Style page I was just imagining how it will be if there is a Barbie that wears hijab that looks exactly like me that was what I was thinking of that was my head space then what if a doll wore hijab and one day I got a doll wore the

Hijab for it and posted on social Media I’ve been interested in Barbie for years I saw it around while I was growing up but in my adult years you know as an artist I also saw it as a source of inspiration I came across Barbie more you know when I was familiar with it more social media Barbie being a

Young girl living a life you know posting fashion tips you know going for events and things like that so that was like when I really got familiar very much with Barbie Barbie the influencer what’s in my bag never leave the house without this WOW vintage oh I was wondering what that

Went o got to protect your skin huh this will match my shoes hike why is the rubber chicken in as of social Med so on social media she acts like a real influencer and she comes across as a real person even though you know it’s

A doll and I think it works very well because many people still have this connection to her from their childhood and also this Nostalgia hi so you’ve probably heard me say this before but I really try to do my best to live a sustainable lifestyle

And one of the best ways to do this is by helping out animals and other little creatures that might be struggling to live their best lives because of Disappearing habitats which brings me to today’s project do you know what this is It’s a bee Hotel don’t feel bad if you

Didn’t know that I didn’t know and I’ve seen them all around my neighborhood a bee hotel is a home for solitary bees like Mason bees so it’s a safe place for them to lay their eggs and store their pollen on the other hand I think you

Also have to be a bit careful because I think it has a different effect on children who still perceive everything very differently I mean when I see it now I can understand it and reflect on it but back then as an absolute Barbie fan if I’d seen Barbie on Tik Tok or

Barbie as a vlogger on I think I might have lost touch with it a bit how much of her is the toy what’s the doll and what’s real life what’s reality here got a problem you should he’s cute BBY was never pregnant never married but Ken was with her

Almost from the start a rather platonic relationship so there was never any talk of sex a special couple sexy asexual somehow somehow I just wasn’t into him that sounds Brash but I only had eyes for Barbie I just thought she was so cool and for me it was like yeah

He exists but I’m not that into him I thought she was cool and I wanted all the dolls and variations on the one hand I see that Ken is actually just well another part of Barbie’s life Ken is like the house like the car and then there’s Ken without Ken it’s

Somehow not complete Barbie the famous teenage fashion model doll by Mattel felt that this was to be a special night and then it happened she met Ken and somehow she knew that she and Ken would be going together and that’s Ken really sweet really boring but always sporting that

Six-pack yeah there were more kendalls so that more little boys could see themselves in it I’m just so pleased that my niece and my nephew my nephew loves them so interested already because now I get to play with them all over again in that way again I mean I’m

Constantly playing with them now yeah so might as Well oh my god really Happen hello everyone thank you for coming coming I look beautiful Barbie yes Ken what are you doing oh God I’m scared marriage wedding unlikely this is uh an announcement we thought we’d never make oh dear 2004 Ken and Barbie’s relationship is in trouble Ken and Barbie are going to go

Their separate ways the Barbie fan Community was in a state of shock but honestly did Barbie ever need a Man I think the concern given that we live in a patriarchal society was that the moment Ken started playing a major role he’d take all the power and absorb all the energy so to speak and then she’d just be the pretty trophy wife at his side and of course that wouldn’t

Work because it contradicts the whole Barbie idea need eyir a perfect marketing coup a twist of fate lovers reunited Barbie and Ken have been apart for about seven years Ken has been working so hard to win Barbie back with grand gestures all over the city all over the globe and today on Valentine’s

Day Barbie said yes we were made for each other let’s go for it and they are back together again hi Ken oh hello I thought I heard your voice did you yeah see I was just in the bath naked lathering the curves of my body good God and you know what I was

Thinking no please not tell me I was thinking that I would much prefer if you were there with me in the bath naked lathering the curves of my body skip can I discussion wait a little bit your mom wants to have sex thank you see more or

Less explicit never said it directly he still got interesting okay thanks Barbie I’ve got something to work with now hey can you teach me how to do the cool lighting ch change of course are we going to have sex now no I’m Busy Sam and Mickey AKA Barbie and Ken don’t mince their words the two filmmakers have known each other since high school they published their first video in 2010 today they have over 440,000 subscribers on YouTube I think that Barbie is entirely an attitude towards life because

She’s an inanimate object as much as she has such a visceral real feeling because of of how long she’s been around and her marketing um she’s still a projection of whatever we believe her to be that I can be as drunk as I want because my responsibilities ended when you became a

Massive failure run forest run she can represent a um their projection of what they could be as an adult um as we get older um we experience the world we become a little bit more cynical uh there may be more negative projections towards Barbie because we put our own

Biases and own prejudices um and own attitudes of what a person should be and should represent onto this stll but at the end of the day she’s a lump of plastic according to Mattel the commitment to diversity is paying off they say sales of the new diverse models

Are catching up to the classics but this cannot be verified super celebrities like singer Queen Latifa are delighted in any case it’s great that girls will get to see these Barbies I wish I had these Barbies growing up you know because I’m sure I would have wanted various different

Kinds of Barbies and then they could have all had a conversation my storytelling would have got a lot better because we could have had a lot more stories to tell plus-size model Ashley Graham is also part of the Barbie family Mattel is doing its utmost to counteract their body shaming

Image Ashley Graham is perhaps the most internationally successful plus-sized model so why not as a Barby too as we in here and again here we see a very classic Barbie with classic Barbie body measurements the thin arms the thin legs and I’d like to show the thighs here for the following

Reason barie has now developed a curvy version and if we compare this thigh with this one we can see that there is more but not much more so it’s really questionable this can pass as a curvy Model well I think she’s good because she’s just because some people aren’t as skinny as others and she’s still not fat here she’s just a bit wider well everyone looks beautiful and everyone has their own opinion of how they look and a Barbie well I don’t want to look like a

Barbie the interesting thing is that on the one hand we have a much wider pelvis than the classic Barbie but there’s no difference in terms of bust size for example it’s very rare that a woman with this body shape would not have a significantly larger stomach or breasts if she’s meant to represent

Overweight girls for example she’s still a beauty queen and still an unattainable ideal for many ideal or not Bobby is still an integral part of so many children’s playrooms today you can see from this that Bar’s continued success is a result of her moving with the times she’s always step

Ahead and always picks up on topical issues I think that’s very very important and that children can learn from Her these these special women who have achieved something or have professions in traditionally men’s Fields I think it’s very very important to show this through Play Not only to children but also to adults to men and to women one thing’s for sure Barbie’s universe will outlive us all that’s the way it

Was and the way it will always be from one generation to the Next

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Video “Barbie: The world’s greatest influencer? | DW Documentary” was uploaded on 02/28/2024 by DW Documentary Youtube channel.