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The hair’s the thing!


Levine, E. (1990, Winter). The hair’s the thing! Barbie, pp. 61-63.


Since the Barbie’s introduction in 1959, little girls have been fascinated with combing and styling the doll’s hair. Her lush blond mane was initially Barbie’s crowning glory. However, since 1959, Barbie’s hair has undergone many transformations. These changes include "Long, straight hair with and without bangs, shoulder-length straight hair, a flip, a smooth page-boy, a shag, a short bubble cut, and even hair cascading down to her knees." (p. 61)

Barbie’s international incarnations display "wild, curly, ebony tresses (Italian Barbie), long straight black hair (Oriental Barbie) and long, wavy dark locks (Hispanic Barbie)." (p. 61)

In 1965, hair color kits were available to instantly change Barbie’s look. In 1971, certain Barbie dolls had built-in hair that "grew" when tugged. 1973 Introduced "Quick Curl Barbie," whose hair formed into ringlets when twisted around fingers. "Magic Curl Barbie" (1982) offered a spray that straightened curly hair.

In 1990 three renowned hair designers gave Barbie three new looks: Vidal Sassoon gave Barbie a "Turnstyle" (an updated version of the 1960s’ bob). Kenneth layered Barbie’s hair, and Jose Eber "made it a little shorter, teased it, and then poofed it up." (p. 63)



    • How does culture give fresh new ideas to Barbie’s hairdos?
    • If you were Barbie’s hair designer, where would you get your ideas for a hairdo?
    • What was Mattel’s purpose in using three renowned hair designers to style Barbie’s hair?
    • Are hairstyles an important aspect of a person’s identity? Explain.

      1. Never underestimate the importance of hair to an adolescent. American society is obsessed with fashionable hair. It is part of one’s self-image. As adults, much of one’s self-image is derived from within. This is not so with adolescents. Their appearance is often a reflection of their attitudes, beliefs, and values.
      2. While it is important to be sensitive to adolescents’ "bad hair days," it is more important to encourage them to look within for their identity. Money, clothes, and hairstyles should never be the façade through which a beautiful child is hiding.
      Melissa McDougall cCYS