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Is Barbie Pregnant? The Story of Pregnant Barbie
What's more controversial, a pregnant teenager or a pregnant doll?
Many people would say that teenage pregnancy is a larger issue. But in 2002, Mattel introduced a doll that made the purchasers of toys for their children (i.e., human mothers) gasp in the toy stores.
A pregnant Barbie! Yikes! What a scandal!
Or was it a scandal at all? Was it even Barbie?
No, Barbie Has Never Been Pregnant
Also, Barbie has always been single. The wedding dresses that were designed for her were only “fantasy” weddings to her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Ken.
But that doesn't mean her friends didn't start a family!
Barbie and Midge
Barbie has had lots of friends in her lifetime, and in 1991, two of them married each other. Their names were Midge Hadley and Allan Sherwood. Later, Mattel produced their "son" Ryan, who was three years old at the time of Midge's "pregnancy" with Ryan's sister Nikki in 2002.
But lest we move too quickly through her controversy-laded life, here is some background.
Get Your "Happy Family" Here!
Various members of the Happy Family clan are still available on eBay. Here are some examples:
Barbie Wedding Day Set Fashion, #972
Ken Doll, 1961
When Barbie was introduced in 1959 at the New York Toy Fair, she was touted as a Teenage Fashion Model, despite her knowing sidelong glance and outrageously proportioned body. In fact, her body was not designed as “pneumatic” as it ended up – though she was designed to look like a full-grown woman clothed in impeccably tailored duds, a thicker waistline would have ruined the way the fashions hung on the doll... and result in disproportionate-looking outfits. So Mattel went with a disproportionate figure instead!
Since Ruth Handler, the "Mother of Barbie" had dreamed of creating a true fashion doll, a schlumpy-looking one would not do. (The fashions were meant to be the true bread and butter of Mattel.)
Barbie Becomes Lonely
And so after a rocky debut, Barbie became very popular. Young girls clamored for friends of Barbie with which to act out real-life scenes. So in 1961, Mattel gave Barbie non-sexually-threatening boyfriend Ken Carson; in 1963, redheaded befreckled best friend Midge; and in 1964 they saddled Barbie with tag-along, moon-faced younger sister Skipper.
That year, Midge also got a boyfriend and Ken got a buddy... whose name was Allan.
Together, they had a grand time on double dates -- snorkeling, playing tennis, going to prom, and drinking orange juice. Until...
Midge and Alan Get Hitched
After Mattel changed the spelling of Allan's name to Alan-with-a-single-L, he and Midge married in 1991. It is clear from the back of the 2002 Happy Family box that Midge is part of a happy family, and so there is no reason that she should not become pregnant.
Although, how dolls get pregnant without specialized body parts is certainly beyond my comprehension.
"This is my favorite picture of Alan and me on our wedding day. That was the start of our wonderful family."
- Midge Hadley, Barbie's best friend, back of box
Midge's tummy, and the baby hidden inside
The Birth of Nikki
It was an easy birth.
All Midge had to do was remove her tanned, egg-like tummy to reveal the baby within. Her stomach was shaped uncannily like the red housing that Silly Putty came in. (It was a little unnerving.) There was no pushing, sweating, or anatomical issues to deal with, just an easy-to-wipe-down hard plastic shell.
The name of Midge and Alan's daughter was Nikki, and she popped out already swaddled in a diaper, clean, and smiling! (If only births were that easy for everyone.)
About a year later, the Happy Family line came out with Midge's parents (older-looking, but still attractive) and Midge became pregnant again. This time, owners could name the baby, and it was a surprise as to what sex the baby would be.
Deal with it.
Personally, I have nothing against "Pregnant Midge," except that with the belly she requires different clothes (that I'm not willing to buy). I imagine she could wear Alan's clothes, but that would probably spark even more controversy.
To me, the real issue here is not the detachable belly or even the strange little baby inside. Those are laughable. It's that Midge and Alan somehow got together without the proper body parts to "make" a baby. If this is supposed to be a learning toy to introduce pregnancy to little girls, then at least take Alan's shorts off! (Mattel's male dolls have always worn permanent swimsuits.)
As I look at her, Midge appears self-satisfied and complacent, smugly eyeing me as I inspect her full, metallic belly. "Ha!" she smirks prettily. "I have a baby and you don't!"
The one thing I do love about this Midge is the nonchalance with which she greeted all the hoopla. "So you want to pull me from shelves?" she seems to say, with her blue eyes and turned-up nose, gesturing toward her snap-on stomach. "You can try, but little girls will love me even more..."
What do you think?
Was a pregnant doll too controversial for 2002?
Own the infamous doll!
The Happy Family Midge doll may have gotten yanked from shelves years ago, but you can still find them if you really want to own one.
If you're lucky enough to find the African-American set, snatch it up! (It's more rarely seen than the Caucasian version.)
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/retail/2002-12-24-pregnant-doll_x.htm : USATODAY.com - Customers complain, pregnant doll pulled from Wal-Mart.