It’s Barbie’s World, and We’re Here for It
We are overwhelmed—and tickled pink!—by the enthusiastic response to the cover of Hadassah Magazine‘s July/August issue featuring pioneering Jewish businesswoman Ruth Handler, aka Barbie’s Jewish Mother, and four vintage Barbie dolls. We have heard from a multitude of readers who praised the cover and related feature written by Renée Rosen as well as from some who criticize Barbie for perpetuating unrealistic notions of female beauty and achievement. (A sample of letters appears below.)
As Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie continues its reign at the box office, where it has earned more than $1 billion internationally, Barbie mania remains in full swing. If you missed the July/August issue, it is not too late to jump in and learn about Handler’s creation of the iconic doll. Click here for a flip-through edition that includes the Barbie feature as well as many other compelling reads about prominent Jewish TikTokers, cruising the Danube River in search of Jewish heritage and teaching yoga in Israel while missiles fall. Happy reading!
More to Ruth Handler Than Barbie
I was excited to read “Barbie’s Jewish Mother” in the July/August 2023 issue but was disappointed that Ruth Handler’s other successful business venture was not mentioned. Handler was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy in 1970. She couldn’t find comfortable breast prosthetics at that time, and with a partner, started a new company called Nearly Me that manufactured breast forms that fit properly. That company is still going strong. It is also worth noting that Handler was convicted of producing fraudulent financial statements. She resigned from Mattel, paid a hefty fine and served thousands of hours of community service.
San Clemente, Calif.
As a Young Girl, Barbie Taught This Career Woman to Create and Dream Big
My youngest sister, Adrian Leeds, received her first Barbie when she was about 6 years old, just as the dolls were introduced. She proceeded to create a wardrobe of clothes for her Barbie. This later inspired her to attend the Fashion Institute of Design.
After graduation, Adrian spent a year in Israel working on a kibbutz. Since 1994, she has resided in Paris, where she has become a celebrity on the HGTV series House Hunters International. But her whole career path was determined by her Barbie doll and the inspiration it gave her to create and dream big!
Amused, Appalled at the Celebration of Barbie
Barbie’s long legs, large bust, long blond hair and lots of clothes—excluding the dolls representing such women as Sally Ride—teach little girls that this is the sine qua non of beauty. I do not know whether to be amused or appalled at the celebration of Barbie. It is just as appalling as giving little girls baby dolls because, for my generation, that was our circumscribed goal.
Saint Paul, Minn.