Saturday, 30 January 2016

blonde ambition oder i’m fantastic, made of plastic

Via the resplendent Nag on the Lake comes a look at the less wholesome inspiration for the Barbie franchise.
Barbie’s ingénue, a call-girl from a Hamburg tabloid’s funny-pages, had ambitions but rather than becoming a doctor or a lawyer or an astronaut, the original Lilli character aspired to be a gold-digger and secure herself a sugar-daddy. Nonetheless, Lilli was quite liberated and had a keen fashion sense. The panel’s appeal led to novelty figurines that were marketed to adults, like pin-up girls and gag-gifts for bachelor parties. They also proved to be pretty popular playthings for children though they weren’t intended for that and most parents disapproved. Whilst touring in Europe, one of Mattel’s founding designers brought a few of these biker-bitch Barbies back to the States with her, and having purchased the rights from the German newspaper, began producing Barbie dolls in 1964.