Ride ‘Em Barbie Girl: Commodifying Folklore, Place, and the Exotic

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Worldviewsand the West: The Life of the Place Itself


Utah State University Press

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In 1959, Ruth Handler of Mattel - inspired by paper dolls and a German sex doll - created an adult doll for little girls and named her Barbie. According to Mattel, the doll's full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts, and she attended Willows High School in Willows, Wisconsin, and then went to "State College" (Robins 1989, 26). Barbie M. Roberts has come a long way since those early days. In 1996 Mattel's net sales reached $3.8 billion, and Barbie dolls represented nearly one-half of these sales (Sarashon-Kahn 1998, 1). If all the Barbies sold as of 1997 were lined up head to toe, they would circle the earth more than eleven times (Tosa 1998, 107). Today, two Barbies sell every second somewhere in the world ("Twin Fates" 1999, 121). Clearly Barbie is a sales success.

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