123: “We’re Into Barbie!” – Girls’ Toys of the 80s & 90s

We hope you like the color pink, because that’s all you’re getting in this episode! In the second part of our Toys of Summer series, we look back at the most popular toys from our youth that were targeted at little girls – the gentle equines of MY LITTLE PONY, the disturbing, dead-eyed CABBAGE PATCH KIDS, the complicated backstory of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS, and of course the ubiquitous BARBIE, who first appeared on shelves wearing a black-and-white-striped bathing suit and has since become synonymous with the color pink. 

Mattel has sold billions of Barbie dolls in the last 60 years despite often being the target of controversy; the doll has been a best friend and role model to the little girls who play with her while also contributing to their low self-image. Is there still a place for Barbie today? The inevitable box-office success of Barbie’s first live-action big-screen adaptation might make you say Yes, but when it comes to the dolls, are we as willing to let the next generation of women spend their days imagining themselves as a buxom blonde bombshell?

Join Becky, Chris, and Seth as they explore the gender politics of playing with Barbies, try to make sense of the absurd backstories of Jem and the Holograms and the Cabbage Patch Kids, and compare the stark differences between marketing to boys and girls. 

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