American Icons

American Icons: Barbie

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A posed Barbie doll.

A posed Barbie doll.

Credit:

jvphoto / Alamy Stock Photo

Whether you've dressed her up in ball gowns or chopped off her hair, everyone has something to say about the all-American doll. Since her creation in 1959 — based on a sexy novelty item sold to German men — the best-selling doll in the world has charmed girls, lured collectors, made billions and stirred controversy.

Is Barbie a negative female stereotype? Or is she a toy that encourages imagination? Countless artists have played with Barbie's image, sometimes defiling the doll as a form of commentary, and the Mattel company has at times responded with lawsuits. Leital Molad looks into how Barbie has endured and what her future may hold.

(Originally aired March 30, 2006)

In Arts, Culture & MediaAmerican IconsArtsCulture.