Changing Barbie

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Mattel doll debuted 50 years ago today. Anna Vander Broek, the Forbes reporter who edited their "Barbie at 50" web project, talks about why Barbie is a doll women love to hate.


Anna Vander Broek

Comments [34]

JMPendley from 96th & Bway

Spitzer and money laundering - and discretion.
No US ATTY would have guts to face a judge in a federal court using an anti money laundering action against Spitzer.. it would open an enormous can of worms, being that tens of thousands of 'john's' exist out there (lawyers/judges/congressman/clerks/law students,et) and this type of criminal law wasn't written to forge new paths in moral turpitude. But by theory, people contributing to or participating in "Spitzerism" are complicit to and engaging in illegal interstate commerce and a target for violation of AML laws, no different than crossing state lines to buy or sell drugs.

Mar. 10 2009 10:52 AM
Barbie Interruptus from Upper West Side

So many of my Barbie's went missing over the years. When I discovered the latest was gone, I would cry to my parents and of course my sister would deny everything. My father made up a song to tease me about my missing Barbies; because, of course, I must have misplaced her - "You took my Barbies out, now you put them back". My mother would join in. Everytime one went missing they'd sing it and a lot went missing. It drove crazy.

Then years later, one Spring day, while cleaning the gutter off of our old playroom, my Dad came into the house with both hands filled with dirty, weathered shaved-Barbie heads. Sister was finally questioned but, denied any knowledge.

It wasn't until after the birth of her son, in the early 1990's, during a family dinner with our parents that she came clean. She finally confessed to her savage brutality towards my Barbies. How she would chop their hair off to their ugly stumps, then rip their heads off, toss them onto the roof and when no one was around, bury their bodies under the garbage cans outside of the garage. A part of me, even though I was in my mid-30's at the time, wanted to go back to our old house and dig those Barbies up. I just wanted some closure - to confirm their whereabouts.

I have to thank Brian and the Producers for covering this story today. After hearing the woman caller confess, on the air, to her childhood acts of Barbie mutilation, I had to call my sister and tell her about it. We laughed and laughed so hard - I had tears streaming down my face. And, by the way, I am proud to say my sister has grown up to be a very upstanding citizen and Mom - and nothing goes missing from my house when she visits! :)

Mar. 09 2009 08:59 PM
melissa from teaneck, NJ

Vander Broek's comment that "all women had Barbies" is, of course, not true. I'm from a family of six girls, and only one of the six liked dolls and collected Barbies. My mother would give us dolls each Christmas when we were little, and we would play with them for a day, cut off their hair, and then ignore them. Mom gave up after a few years of this. (And none of us girls grew up to be ax-murderers or hate men.)

Mar. 09 2009 12:26 PM
A. S. from Brooklyn

Ok, well Truth from Atlanta, I don't really think I am.

Mar. 09 2009 11:34 AM
Cindy Lubin

I loved my Barbie and all of her outfits and accessories. It never occurred to me to mutilate her. Is there something wrong with me?

Mar. 09 2009 11:26 AM
92Y from ues

How about making a Modern Orthodox Teffilin Barbie, with or without Torah, as Jen Taylor Friedman has:

Mar. 09 2009 11:21 AM

I "permed" my Dallas Barbie's hair with an iron.

Mar. 09 2009 11:17 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Hopefully A.S.

Mar. 09 2009 11:10 AM
kc from long Island

For my daughter's 6th birthday, my father-in-law wanted to give my nearly 3 year old son a present to open. I suggested a Barbie doll. Although appalled he realized that "his" little boy loved to play with his sister's toys. So, in 1994 my son received his first and only Barbie. She soon joined the other Barbies on trips to the zoo, the store and car shops.
Also, in the 80's the magazine "on our backs" had a cover of Barbie used as a lesbian sex toy.

Mar. 09 2009 11:09 AM
A. S. from Brooklyn

Am I the only one who made their barbies have sex?

Mar. 09 2009 11:04 AM
kimberly ann josephine from brooklyn, ny

my brother used to play barbies with me, so things got a little crazier, perhaps, than they would have had it just been me. ken was "jumping" one day (i had one ken, and a rather large number of barbies for him) and hit the ceiling and lost his head. it was un-re-attachable, so we held a funeral for him where all the barbies lined up and passed ken's head down the line to say their last words to him.

after the funeral, we used the headless ken to signifiy ken for the remainder of our barbie-playing phase. we kind of thought nothing of it, i imagine. he could still hear, see, etc. but i never forgot that funeral.

Mar. 09 2009 11:03 AM
Joan from Midtown

I'm seeing this Barbie mutilation conversation all over the web. Come on... kids just like to destroy their toys. I'm sure that this issue wouldn't get nearly as much air time if it was GI Joe's 50th anniversary. When boys mess around with their toys it's just playing. When girls do it, it's insight into their damaged psyches?

Mar. 09 2009 11:01 AM
Karen from Manhattan

To Susan --

No, kids are just sadistic and need an outlet for those feelings. If we hadn't been beating up our dolls, we'd have been beating on one another.

Mar. 09 2009 11:00 AM
Natasha from Brooklyn

There is a Brooklyn-based art jeweler named Margaux Lange and she uses various parts of Barbie to make very reverential and poetic jewelry. She also keeps a blog of comments about her work, which is called Creepy but Cool, which displays the very complicated relationship people have with Barbie.

Mar. 09 2009 11:00 AM
Robert from NYC

This is better than South Park.

Mar. 09 2009 10:59 AM
Kate from Astoria

I drew with markers on Barbie's face, teased and chopped her hair off. When my mother asked me what I was doing, I said, "Mommy, I'm making her MORE BEAUTIFUL!"

Mar. 09 2009 10:59 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Hillary Clinton is too old for a Barbie. The 1945-52 generation got Betsy Wetsy and Shirley Temple dolls.

Mar. 09 2009 10:59 AM
Amelia from Tarrytown, NY

I made "club foot" Barbie by holding her feet up to the space heater. No beheading, I was only into mutilating the feet!

Mar. 09 2009 10:59 AM
Robert from NYC

LOL Barbie mutiilation. Oh goodness these are hilarious. Maybe you should call a developMENTAL psychologist!!

Mar. 09 2009 10:58 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Jeez you people are sick! I never mutilated my Barbie dolls, in fact I kept them in very good condition...I wish I still had them now, they would probably be worth some money now.

Mar. 09 2009 10:58 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Sounds like all of you had a love-hate relationship with this doll or the image that it projected.

Mar. 09 2009 10:57 AM
jessica from Colonia, NJ

As far as the caller saying her daughter tied up her barbies I believe this is very common. I have heard many stories about barbie's being damsals in setress and alot of this seems to fall into the category of bondage. It's strange but common.

Mar. 09 2009 10:57 AM
Matt Perlman from NYC

My daughters were given a bunch of Barbies and Kens by our next door neighbor. They played with them for a while, and one day I noticed that while all the Barbies were intact, the Kens were all headless. Truly gave me a chill.

Barbie later turned up mummified with layers of toilet paper after a trip to the MMA.

Mar. 09 2009 10:57 AM

I would always like my She-Ra more then my Barbie, but I would think it was too difficult to change my Barbie's clothes onto my other one, so I would simply pop their heads off and change them. Somehow Barbie's head went missing and my mom still had my old Barbie, dressed in her 80's wedding gown headless.

Mar. 09 2009 10:56 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Betsy Wetsy (pre-Barbie): My sister and I used to plug up Betsy's bottom and mouth and maker her pee through her armpits.

I tied Betsey to my "toy" ironing board, put on my toy guns and holster and Annie Oakley outfit, and pretended to rescue her from the "Indians."

We also combed all the curls out of Shirley Temple's hair.

Mar. 09 2009 10:55 AM
J. Hayes from Brooklyn

i fused barbie and kens faces together- my sister never forgave me

Mar. 09 2009 10:55 AM
Bill from New York

I mutilated my G.I. Joe action figures, but I don't think there was anything psycho-sexual involved outside of the usual host of incalculable factors impinging on a boy in the throes of boredom.

Mar. 09 2009 10:54 AM
J. Hayes from Brooklyn

I saw my sister was fond of making the barbie and ken doll make out, so one day i used a lighter and fused the two dolls at the face

Mar. 09 2009 10:53 AM
Sheree from Manhattan

When I was about 11, my favorite thing to do with Barbie was to strap her into a rollerskate and send her careering down a steep hill in front of my house---spectacular crashes!!! I loved playing outside and was never into dolls anyway.

Mar. 09 2009 10:53 AM
Sarah E from Brooklyn

my cousin & i used to play Mugger Barbie...Ken mugged Barbie & then got electrocuted for his crime in a special electric chair we rigged up for him

Mar. 09 2009 10:52 AM
Kathryn from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Have you seen the Barbie Death Camp and Wine Bistro? It's a project done at the Burning Man arts festival in Nevada. Here are some pictures on Flickr:

Mar. 09 2009 10:51 AM
Brian Young from Astoria

I never had a Barbie, but I used to melt my G.I. Joes in the frying pan.

Mar. 09 2009 10:51 AM

I chewed my Barbie's feet!

Mar. 09 2009 10:50 AM
Paula Heisen from New York

I never hurt my Barbie, but A.M. Holmes wrote a classic short story about a young boy's torture of his sister's Barbie. A must read for Barbie "fans".

Mar. 09 2009 10:50 AM

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