For months I looked forward to the Guerrilla Girls coming to present the Barbra and Andrew Rothschild Lecture at the Nasher Museum, and at their recent performance they did not disappoint.
Not only did I learn about their vehement views on the corruption of the NYC art market, and elsewhere in the world; the history behind the women’s feminist art collective and that 1985 “incident” that “pi**ss*d” them off enough to start the collective; but I also learned the history of the Barbie Doll.
Google “history Barbie doll” and pretty much all you’ll learn is that the doll was invented in 1959 by Ruth Handler (co-founder of Mattel), whose own daughter was called Barbara. But did you know that the doll was originally a German toy, called Bild Lilli, who w as a “working woman,” dressed very provocatively? The doll even had nipples.
Men—not little girls—used to buy the toy, normally from bars and tobacco shops. This was the “adult” doll that Ruth Handler discovered on a European tour in 1956, and then bought the rights of. The rest is herstory, sans nipples…
IMAGE: Photo by Dr. J Caldwell.