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Barbie - The Icon, The Image, The Ideal

An Analytical Interpretation of the Barbie Doll in Popular Culture

by Kristin N. Weissman

Paperback eBook PDF

Publisher: Universal-Publishers
Pub date: 1999
Pages: 124
ISBN-10: 1581128282
ISBN-13: 9781581128284
Categories: Social ScienceSocial Science


This thesis is a cultural analysis of: a) women's idealized perception of the Barbie doll, and b) the construction of the Barbie doll image through marketing. In addition, both areas will provide a concentrated emphasis on "respectability." The analysis will be focused on Barbie's creation in 1959, and on the current practices of representations in 1999.

The thesis is divided into two phases. Phase one illustrates the interpretation of how women perceive Barbie, and how they see themselves in her likeness. It further explores the determined impression of the doll as "respectable." Phase two examines the way that Barbie is presented in the market and the techniques used to formulate the intended representations of the doll. The analysis of the thesis focuses solely on her introduction in 1959, and on her current distinction.

The Barbie doll is an iconic image. The symbol of the "feminine ideal" which has caused women to perceive and recognize this figure in a personal light. Further, her existence in the marketplace creates a continual awareness in women to identify and evolve with this object as she captures the culture.

It is critical to examine the conception and portrayal of an icon such as the Barbie doll. As a predominant feature in American culture and society, she is a fictitious character that many have contrived into a reality. She is a name that strikes instant familiarity, and she is a name that evokes controversy, emulation, and success. This thesis achieves a comprehensive look into her importance to women, and the ways in which her corporate creators make her accessible to fulfill this need. Therefore, this thesis accurately makes a connection between the marketing of the Barbie doll, and the building of an icon.