Barbie Doll & Action Man (G I Joe) are the some of the most successful toys sold by the Mattel Corporation (TM). They make many millions of dollars each year from their sales. Being smart, you’ll notice that they weren’t called Geeky Doll and Boring Man. If you want to understand the “stereotypical male and female” sex symbols then take a look at these toys.
BARBIE & ACTION MAN
Action man is dark, fit, muscular and an adventurer. Barbie Doll is lithe, fit, has prominent breasts and is blonde. (The name was very sexy in the late 50’s and also the name of the inventor, Ruth Handler’s, daughter) Based on her measurements, if she really existed, she’d make the average centrefold model look flat-chested.
Ken – Barbie’s on-off boyfriend, is a somewhat less-rough version of Action Man. In short, he’s an androgynous non-threatening stereotype for young girls. Perhaps post 50’s people would be less confused today if the makers of these toys had included plastic genitals.
What’s the point? The point is that these toys work because they subconsciously appeal to very young people who recognise them as winning formulas in the flirting and mating game. Just ask yourself how many blonde women dye their hair dark? How many men wish they had fewer muscles? Generalizations? Yes. Stereotypes? Of course. True? Definitely!