vintage+Barbieplaying+cardPoor Barbie.  Not only is she now 50, she seems to be the scapegoat for just about every problem a girl child could have related to self-image, self-confidence, the need for a boyfriend and the desire for breast implants.  They say if the 11.5” tall Barbie was produced to scale as an adult, she would be 5’9″ and her measurements would be 36-18-33.  Her shoe size would be a size 3.  That doesn’t sound terribly realistic, but so what? The Drifters have been singing about a 39-21-40 shape for 40+ years.


"Busy Barbie" 1972

Isn’t it possible to enjoy something without wanting it?  Can’t a kid play with a doll without wanting to be it? Isn’t the problem with our need to consume, with our need for perfection, with our pervasive envy and covetous ways?   Just because you like an ad for Kate Spade doesn’t mean you run out and buy everything Kate Spade–although, I do love an obsession…

My Barbie phase was fairly short-lived, but I still got a little thrill when I came across a photo of the Quick-curl Barbie in her pink & white checked maxi dress.  I had a Barbie town house, and a Ken and Francie.  But what I remember most was my neighbor’s hot pink velvet Barbie coat.  I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life.  It didn’t help that said neighbor girl’s Mother had a pair of grown-up modern velvet chairs in the same shade of Barbie pink.  That fixation has lead me to several pink velvet vintage coats through the years—and eventually led me back to the chairs.  Twenty years later, I called up Mrs. Neighbor out of the blue and asked her if she still had the velvet Barbie chairs.  She thought it was hilarious and eventually sold them to me.  They now reside in my store, currentVintage.

Life-changing Barbie Coat

Life-changing Barbie Coat

I hope kids don’t grow up to be mass consumers, shop at malls, eat processed foods and buy disposable clothing from Old Navy and the Gap, but I certainly don’t think Barbie is the problem just because Barbie is pretty and Barbie clothes are fun.  If Barbie is critiqued as a role model, kids could do a lot a worse than one with good posture, clean hair, that loves animals and has run for President twice.  I think the real issues are not whether she wears nail polish, but whether it’s organic.  Not that she is plastic, but why so many toys end up in our landfills.  Not that she is perversely proportioned, but how parents accept the way they look.  Choose your battles carefully;  Barbie has served in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Our problems are a lot bigger than Barbie, although, when reading up on Barbie, I came across some pretty impressive stats.  In so many ways, Barbie is larger-than-life…

Homeless Barbies

Homeless Barbies

Some Barbie facts…

*Mattel is considered one of the largest apparel manufacturers in the world and has used around 105 million yards of fabric to dress Barbie.

*Neé Barbara Millicent Roberts, the first Barbie was launched in 1959

*Barbie’s hair is made up of seven shades of blonde, woven together to get that perfect golden look.

*Ninety percent of little girls in the U.S. (ages 3 to 10) own at least one Barbie.

*There are about 8 million Barbie collectors worldwide, most in their 40s.

*Every second a Barbie is sold, amounting to nearly 2 billion a year from over 150 countries.

*An original 1959 Barbie sold for $27500

*If all the Barbie dolls that have been sold since their introduction in 1959 were laid head to toe, they would circle the world seven times (can’t verify the math on that one)

*The Best-selling Barbie model ever was wearing a Pucci-inspired minidress and had hair to her ankles in 1992.

Watch “The making of a Barbie” & original “Welcome to the Dreamhouse” commercial

Barbie as art…

Barbie Art

MCHOW "ARMS" Barbie Art

*There is a Barbie Museum in a Union City, CA Industrial Park themed on the 1963 Barbie Goes to College soda shop and the 1964 Barbie Fashion Show play set.  It includes more than 2,500 vintage and new dolls.

*Situated in the Old Count’s Chambers of Prague Castle is the Prague Toy Museum, which houses a huge collection of old and new Barbie Dolls.

Prague's Toy Museum

Prague's Toy Museum

*The Museum of Play in Rochester (Strong Museum), has over 1500 Barbies.

*There is a Netherlands Barbiepoppen online museum

* David Levinthal’s 1998 Barbie Polaroids sell for about $12,500 each.

Very cool “Modern Barbies” Art:–1940.asp

The Barbie-haters…


The original Barbie, based on an "Adult" German doll

*San Francisco hosts an annual AlteredBarbie convention

*There is a Barbie-in-a-blender Day sponsored by

*Barbie is banned in Iran

Watch “Psycho Barbie”:

Check out the currentVintage newsletter featuring more great Barbie pics and trivia, plus wine and vintage fashion!

currentVintage Newsletter:  Barbie is 50 Edition