Friday, August 15, 2014

Made in Wisconsin: Barbie

Barbie? Do you mean Barbies are made in Wisconsin?

Nope, they're probably made overseas somewhere, certainly not in Wisconsin.

Do you mean Barbie was designed or invented by someone born in Wisconsin?

Nope, the credited creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler, was born in Denver, Colorado.

Then how in the world is Barbie somehow even remotely from or connected to Wisconsin!!!!???

Lamentabile dictu, Mattel decided early in their promotion of this doll that Barbie needed a back story.

And this back story was to be presented to the public through a series of "Barbie Novels" that Random House published in the 1960's.

Here's apparently how the conversation went in the board room:

Maybe we make Barbie be from Nebraska?

Are you f*&^ing serious?

Um, maybe Barbie is from California? Say, Malibu! We can even call her "Malibu Barbie"!

You're fired. There's no way that's ever happening.

Um, um, um, how about Barbie is from Wisconsin!

Yes! Give that man a raise!

And thus, Barbie was given the following back story. Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She was born to parents George and Margaret Roberts in the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin. Barbie, by the way, attended the fictional Willows High School in those novels.

We in Wisconsin can hardly be proud of a doll that has perpetuated an unhealthy and impossible body image to generations of girls for decades. 

But, for what it's worth, I guess Barbie's from Wisconsin...

Keith Massey was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. He has his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Biblical Hebrew, with a minor in Arabic. After 9/11, he served as an Arabic linguist at the NSA. He is currently a Latin teacher at a public high school in New Jersey.

Keith is the author of Intermediate Arabic for Dummies. His fiction novels follow the adventures of Andrew Valquist, roughly patterned after himself--a man born and raised in Wisconsin who gets pulled into the world of international intrigue. 

Keith's novels are A Place of Brightness, Amor Vincit Omnia: An Andrew Valquist Adventure, Next Stop: Spanish, and In Saecula Saeculorum.