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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Barbie's Birthday


I spotted this tweet today and it caused me to reflect on my own "Barbieless" childhood.
From Magnum Photo tweet:
This week in 1959, the first Barbie doll made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York.

I was 11 years old when Barbie appeared.  My mom did not approve of the doll.  Of course everybody I knew got one eventually.  Except me.   My Mom compromised with this doll:



My mom bought me Elizabeth instead. I also had the Ginny Doll (My name for her, anyway).  My mom made extensive wardrobes for both.  I still have those clothes, as well as the dolls.

Research update:  I was quietly trimming edges off scrapbook pages to put in an album when the name "Cindy" floated into my mind (or maybe Sissy....it has been many decades).  That was really my name for the doll (I think it morphed into Elizabeth in my mind when my mom made the Queen Elizabeth outfit for her) I could not believe my mom actually spent money on a Madame Alexander doll, but then I discovered the reference to this: Cissette arrived two years after Cissy as the smaller, cuter and more affordable version of Alexander's popular glamour doll. The same mold was also used for other dolls during the Cissette period, including Sleeping Beauty (identifiable by her flat feet), Margot (with heavy eye makeup and upswept hair) and Jacqueline (heavy eye makeup and sidepart hairstyle). The mold continued to be used for the Portrette series and other dolls in the '60s, and is still in use today. Cissette was reintroduced in the late '90s.  Note the "cuter" term.  Mine WAS cuter than Barbie.  My mom would surely think her more suitable than Barbie.

More research:  This other doll I named Ginny and I found out this online:  Little Miss Ginger remains among the smallest of the fashion dolls made during that time period.


I got my first Barbie doll when I bought one for my daughter. I still think the Elizabeth doll is prettier. Barbie made it, though. The power of Marketing.
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