If she were human, Barbie would be the most anatomically improbable human ever to roam the oversized plastic playhouses of the modern world. But you knew that.
You also knew that despite multiple decades of scorn from progressives who despise those proportions — not to mention her lack of pigment, support for the Iraq War, and appalling silence on the issue of animal testing — Barbie has remained a remarkably popular toy franchise since her initial creation in 1959.
What you probably didn’t know is that the original Barbie doll was modeled after the Lilli doll. And the Lilli doll was not made for girls:
At that time, girls played with baby dolls and prepubescent-shaped fashion dolls. Lilli, on the other hand, had big, thickly lined eyes that gazed suggestively to the side. Her crimson lips puckered slightly with a flirtatious pout. Standing in black spike heels, Lilli’s impossibly petite feet supported a distinct hourglass frame.
With advertising taglines such as, “Whether more or less naked, Lilli is always discreet,” and a wardrobe consisting of negligees, tiny tops and tight pants, Lilli dolls were essentially sex toys. People gave them as bachelor gifts, some men rode around with Lilli on their dashboards, and others bought them just for the cheap thrill out of peeping under her alluring ensembles.
Lilli became Barbie when Mattell founder Ruth Handler discovered them while on vacation in Switzerland. She convinced her design team to recreate the dolls and renamed them Barbie.
Curiously, this wasn’t the first time — nor the last — that a German sex toy made it big in the U.S. as a child’s toy. You guys remember playing Uncle Fritz’s Wiener Factory with that vagrant at the playground, right? Right? Oh I’m soooo sad.
Who invented the Barbie doll and why? [How Stuff Works]