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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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