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Throwing a CURVEball

A funny thing happened the other day while I was at Wal-Mart. Well, actually, funny things always occur when my family and I invade that store. The wide, open spaces filled with shiny glass and luminous plastic objects act as a beacon for my kids to misbehave and run. It’s almost Pavlovian; the second they see that logo coming into view, their motors start to get charged up. I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those mothers who seem to be perennially crouched down, staring intently into their children’s eyes, and whispering forcefully and fervently. Ah, yes, good times . . .

The other night, however, I had an epiphany while standing in the $5 DVD lane. I was debating whether I actually needed to purchase the remaindered deluxe edition of Grease, when my son, Tommy, nudged me on the hip.

“Could you buy this for us?” he asked.

I stared at what was in his hand, and asked with some trepidation, “Why do you want THAT?”

“Because we love ‘Barbie,’” he answered reasonably.

However, Tommy wasn’t embracing a Barbie video; he had picked up a copy of House Bunny, a comedy about a Playboy playmate who goes back to college, and hijinks ensue.

Looking at the DVD cover, with the sunny, smiling, shapely blonde, I could well understand how he made the mistake, but that got me to thinking about Barbie, the vinyl vixen who has been making headlines for more than 50 years.

Why is Barbie so vilified and so rarified? Why does she have an equal measure of ardent admirers and decrying detractors? And, more important, how has she managed to stay relevant and talked about for five decades? It’s not a coincidence that Sarah Palin, a real-life lightning rod for controversy, has been dismissed and disparaged as “Caribou Barbie.” What is it about a pretty face and a leggy stride that makes so many people instantly uncomfortable and prickly?

Tommy is a recent immigrant to our shores. He was adopted into my family last year, at the age of 6. Growing up in China, he had zero exposure to Barbie. In the past 365 days, though, he has been surrounded by her image in our house (he likes to handle the discarded dolls of his sister), in straight-to-video movies (surprisingly well-done plots), and on every toy shelf in every store (in BJ’s, she is found right behind the bulk boxes of noodles and rice).

I asked Tommy what he likes about Barbie, and why he enjoys watching her movie adventures so much. I was prepared to hear that she was pretty, she looks nice, she has shiny hair. His answer came out of left field—it was a curveball about the curvaceous one.
“She’s always helping people and she always is good. She is nice.”

That’s true: In the Barbie films, the fashion doll proves that heroism, honesty, self-reliance and self-confidence are assets that are always in fashion.

For my son, Barbie has become the poster girl of feminism. Or, should I say, the poster woman.

I didn’t buy House Bunny (and didn’t buy Grease, either) but I did pick up Fairytopia, starring Barbie and a cast of supporting maidens. Though she might have made her debut in 1959 as a teenage swimsuit model, Barbie today has emerged as strong, courageous and determined. It’s not her fault she has a killer body and a gorgeous face. Don’t hate her because she’s beautiful—embrace her because she’s 50-plus and can still teach the new generation a thing or two.

Photo Caption

My son, Tommy, was understandably confused. Which of these pretty pastel-wearing blondes is the real Barbie? For him, Barbie is all about kindness and consideration. What about you?

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Wow, this makes me think that it's the people to whom Barbie's NOT marketed are those who have the biggest problem with her (did that make sense?). It sounds like Mattel's talking to its target audience in the best way possible. As for me, I did have a problem w/B when I was a kid--it wasn't her body or her face that upset me, but her skin color. I had Malibu Barbie, and it made me feel bad because I'm really pale. No wonder I liked to pull her head off and drown her in the sink! Maybe Mattel will do a special-edition Twilight series!

Pune , April 17, 2010
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Barbie is so much a part of our collective culture. I'm glad your son embraces her basic goodness. We don't have any icons like that today. It seems to be such an "old fashioned" concept.
Cathy Cosentino , April 16, 2010
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This article brought back so many pleasant memories of my own Barbie doll (and her ever-expanding family: Ken, Midge, Scooter...). I never suspected that 40+ years later Barbie would still be going strong. Thanks for the trip down memorie lane.
Betty , April 15, 2010
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Hi Stephanie,

This is so interesting to me. I loved Barbie growing up. (And Barbie and I are close in age). My Mom would make incredible clothing for her to wear. All matching outfits even with coats! I grew up with three brothers all thinking Barbie was something to blow up or tear the head off of!!! All three are in medicine now so maybe they were just practicing becoming doctors early on, smilies/wink.gif! To know that your son likes Barbie on a whole different level is wonderful to hear. I must tell my brothers this story! Thank you for sharing, I love reading your blogs.
Audrey Swarz , April 15, 2010 | url
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Sweet and funny. Children do say the most honest things. It's good when an adult is around and can catch it. Made me smile. smilies/grin.gif
Bette , April 15, 2010
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Nicely stated. It's remarkable how the Barbie doll continues to strengthen it's brand name, which currently captures the attention of boys and girls. When I was a child, boys had GI Joe and only girls had Barbies.
Nicholas Grasso , April 15, 2010

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Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.

The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.

To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:

  • Been active in the doll or bear field a minimum of 25 years.
  • Maintained or increased the quality of reputation and product or service provided since inception.
  • Served the industry with integrity, honesty, reliability
  • Received a majority of the votes from previous recipients.

The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:

2002 Steiff
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2010 Helen Kish
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
2015 Kaye Wiggs
2016 Robert Tonner

 

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One World Doll Project, Tonner Doll Company merge to become Tonner One World

One World Holdings, Inc. and Tonner Doll Company, Inc., announced Dec. 3, 2015, that their Boards of Directors have approved a definitive agreement for One World Holdings' subsidiary, The One World Doll Project, to merge with Tonner Doll. The agreement was entered into Dec. 2. Following the closing of the merger, the combined business will change its name to Tonner One World.

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Very informative article. I am happy for Tonner Doll and hope that their new venture enables them to continue creating beautiful dolls.
Terri Gold , December 05, 2015 | url

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2015 DOLLS Awards Industry's Choice winners announced

The 2015 DOLLS Awards of Excellence Industry’s Choice winners (DAEs, also called the Diamond Awards) were announced at the International Doll & Teddy Bear Show in Asheville, N.C., June 6. The Industry's Choice winners will go on to become the nominee's in the Public's Choice voting, set to begin in late June.

Without further ado, here are the winners of this year's Industry's Choice Diamond Awards!

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BLACKALL ASSOCIATES INC. 
ANNOUNCING Winner of the Summer Heat Photo Contest

August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat. 

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i have very old magazines need to sell them before something happens to them
margie , December 20, 2014
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i really like all the barbie balack dress, can i ask question can i buy this, because its all out in the market now here in the philippines, can you help me please im a big fan of thiss dolls
mark christian paul l. carigma , December 16, 2014 | url

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The Chicago Toy Show

You haven’t seen a toy show until you’ve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and children’s playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.

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