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?


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.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Oct 7, 2015
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after explosions near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike.  (AP)

The U.S. airstrike on the hospital in Kunduz. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan faces tough questions from Congress. We’re looking for what really happened.

Oct 7, 2015
Students in the new documentary film "Beyond Measure" take part in a project-based learning activity with their peers. (Courtesy the Filmmakers)

Arne Duncan’s headed out as U.S. Education Secretary. What’s next for America’s school kids?

Oct 6, 2015
In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, photo, Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake, mother of Alison Shuemake, browses a picture collage of her daughter at her home, in Middletown, Ohio. Alison Shuemake, 18, died Aug. 26, after a suspected heroin overdose. (AP)

American addiction. From prescription painkillers to heroin. The numbers are staggering. Why?

Oct 6, 2015
Eric Baker, co-owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop, poses for a photo at the shop Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Phoenix.  (AP)

American gun policy front and center in the 2016 campaigns after the shootings in Oregon. We’ll look at who stands where on guns.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Rep. Daniel Webster: ‘I’m Gonna Sell This Message’
Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015

When House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his retirement and resignation from his position last month, it surprised both his Party and the Washington political establishment. Now, with the House set to vote on a new Speaker on Oct. 25, three would-be party leaders are stepping in to make their case. U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster […]

More »
Our Week In The Web: October 2, 2015
Friday, Oct 2, 2015

We say hello again to our email address (since so many of you did this week) and goodbye to the Log Lady.

More »
Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Count Me As A Radical’
Thursday, Oct 1, 2015

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making waves in the 2016 Presidential race, and he joined us today from the US Capitol to explain how his campaign message is connecting with voters around the country.

More »