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Barbie Turns 50
Barbie, 1959. (Photo: Courtesy Mattel.)

Barbie, 1959. (Photo: Courtesy Mattel.)

Love them or hate them, everybody knows Barbie dolls. And this year, Barbie turns 50.

When she first showed up in 1959 — with those mile-long legs and trunks of cloths and, for heaven’s sakes, breasts — Barbie was rejected as way too sexual for American girls. Then she conquered the world. Feminists hated her impossibly svelte figure. Barbies flew off the shelves anyway.

And one woman created the whole phenom. She named Barbie for her daughter, Ken for her son. Modeled the doll on a German sex toy. And never apologized.

This hour, On Point: The woman who made Barbie.

You can join the conversation. What’s your Barbie story? Fifty years on, what’s Barbie’s legacy and impact on generations of girls?

Guests:

Joining us from Santa Barbara, Calif., is Robin Gerber, author of “Barbie and Ruth: The  Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.”

Read an excerpt from “Barbie and Ruth.”

And from Newton, Mass., is Sharlene Hesse-Biber, a sociologist at Boston College and the author of “Am I Thin Enough Yet? The Cult of Thinness and the Commercializaton of Identity.”

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Apr 24, 2015
The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP)

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Apr 24, 2015
Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

Artists of earth and sky. Rawhide, bear claw, eagle feathers and the glory of America’s Plans Indians, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Apr 24, 2015
Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

Artists of earth and sky. Rawhide, bear claw, eagle feathers and the glory of America’s Plans Indians, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 
Apr 24, 2015
The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP)

Loretta Lynch gets a vote. Race and anger in Baltimore. Migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. Petraeus, sentenced. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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