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Arts & Culture

Happy Birthday, Barbie! A Look Back At 60 Years Of Fun, Fashion, And Mixed Messages

Oyvind Holmstad
Wikimedia Commons

As Barbie Millicent Roberts -- yes, that's her name -- turns 60 we, as a plastic loving nation, celebrate! For six decades the impossibly proportioned fashion doll has been delighting children and adults around the world.

But the road to 60 hasn't always been easy. Critiqued by feminists, diversity advocates, and even child psychologists for her role in perpetuating harmful sterotypes, eating disorders, and body dysmorphic syndrome among young women, Barbie may be just as controversial as she is iconic.

In recent years, however, Mattel has made some long overdue changes. The new Barbies are more diverse in their career choices, body shapes, and ethnicities than ever before, and her new ad campaigns focus heavily on issues of women's empowerment and equality. But the question remains: Is it too little, too late for Mattel or are these changes enough to see Barbie into her seventies?

We speak with expert guests about the good, the bad and the ugly side of Barbie, as well as about the doll's creator, Ruth Handler. And in case you were wondering, we may even get to Ken along the way!


You can join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter

Colin McEnroe, Chion Wolf and Betsy Kaplan contributed to this show.

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