“What is a Barbie Business Lunch?” you may ask. Local author Robin Gerber will be at the 16th Street J at Noon on Tuesday, October 20 to discuss her latest book Barbie and Me, a new biography (and only biography) of Ruth Handler, the brains and beauty behind the Barbie doll and all of Mattel.
“Why is this in a Jewish literary festival?” may be your next question. Ruth Handler was the 10th child of Polish Jewish immigrants. Now, I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but let’s just say she didn’t have the most ideal relationship with her biological parents. Ruth was a motivated young woman, always wanting to take on more – more jobs, more work, more places. She married Elliot Handler and the two of them embarked on numerous business ventures based out of Los Angeles, CA. Each business soon grew and grew, leading to more innovation, more use of Elliot’s skills and artistic creativity and more use of Ruth’s savvy business skills.
If you ever loved a Barbie, you need to read this book and come hear this author speak. In today’s world, where there is so much argument about the Barbie doll and if it is giving young girls a complex, we seem to have lost site on why Ruth Handler created the doll in the first place. We have forgotten that this Barbie – this icon – was created not by a man but by a woman. And not just a woman, an intelligent, savvy, Jewish woman, wife and mother who was driven to break through the glass ceiling and prove herself in a man’s world.
Now, I’m a short, dark haired and dark eyed Jewish girl – but I am still a Barbie girl. I played with my own Barbies, the hand-me-downs from my sister – even the older stuff that belonged to my mother. These tall, blond and ridiculously proportioned never gave me a complex about myself. All they did was give me a way to act out my dreams and ambitions…ironically enough, my Barbies gave me the tools to act out my favorite BOOKS – Little House on the Prairie, The Babysitters Club, The All-of-a-Kind Family (though the Barbies were never tznius enough for the last one).
So if you’ve ever loved a Barbie, or if you are a businesswoman, or have any ambitions to be a businesswoman, you can NOT miss this lecture.