Barbie - the Prostitute
Bild-Lilli, the German Sex Doll
Bild-Lilli, originally a comic book character from Bild-Zeitung, was known as 'irreverent, witty, and sexually uninhibited.' She was the star in every bar. The plastic doll replica was sold in Tobacco shops, bars, and brothels and were produced as adult novelty items. They were given at bachelor parties as gag gifts, and given to girlfriends as a 'suggestion.'
In 1956, Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, discovered Bild-Lilli on a European vacation to Germany. She pitched the idea to Mattel, and the rest is history.
G&H, the German patent holder for Lilli, sued Mattel in the 1960's but lost the case. In 2001, G&H opened another lawsuit. A writer describes the only difference between Barbie and Lilli: "Unlike Barbie, Lilli doesn’t have an arched foot with itty-bitty toes. She doesn’t even have a foot."
Wholesome, Barbie is Not
Barbie was billed as a 'role-model' for young girls in the 1960's. However, at the time, a woman's first goal was to attract a man. Handler acknowledges this when she says: “Every little girl needed a doll through which to project herself into her dream of her future,” she said in a 1977 interview, as quoted in the obituary. “If she was going to do role playing of what she would be like when she was 16 or 17, it was a little stupid to play with a doll that had a flat chest. So I gave it beautiful breasts.”
The early contract designer of Barbie, Jack Ryan, ran a Playboy-esque mansion. He is known as 'the father of Barbie.' Oppenheimer, the author of Toy Monster, indicates that that "Ryan's personal obsession with the female form figured prominently in the tiny-waisted, long-legged, buxom shape of Barbie."