dolls have long been thought of as a grotesquely stereotypical "perfect"
woman in some circles--those disgusted with Barbie's perfect proportions
note that an anatomically correct
life-size Barbie would be 7 feet tall
with a 40-inch bust, 22-inch waist and 36-inch hips...and her legs would
be 5 feet long. But, it took an incident in the late 1980's to bring
mainstream attention to this issue for the first time:
Mattel released a Teen Talk Barbie which could say over 200 different
sentences. Among these were "Math is hard!" and "Let's go shopping!"
Activist groups throughout the country were outraged that Mattel would
program Barbie with such overtly sexist sayings, and the doll became
the butt of countless jokes in the media and on the late night talk
Tall tales of a "Barbie Liberation Organization" quickly spread, spinning
stories of groups that would go into department stores and switch the speech
chips in the Teen Talk Barbie and Talking Duke G.I. Joe dolls--consumers
were allegedly shocked to find Barbie screaming "VENGEANCE IS MINE!" and
Dukes who pondered, "Let's plan our dream wedding!"
Mattel quickly pulled the dolls from the shelves and reprogrammed Barbie
without the offensive sayings, but the damage had already been done--many
more people than ever before began to see that Barbie might just be everything
that its opponents had been claiming for many years--materialistic, impossibly
proportioned, and subservient.