Reese Witherspoon signs onto Barbie film

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Hayley Kadrou

Despite her start as simply a toy designed for children in the late 1950s, Barbie has managed to capture the imagination of every generation since, and is a household name across the world.

You only need to look at the multiple Barbie Instagram accounts (with a following within the millions), the women who spend thousands of pounds to look and be more like their idol and listen in on the ongoing debate of whether she is an appropriate role model for girls – and boys – to see how entrenched she still is in modern culture.

Perhaps that’s why actor-turned-producer Reese Witherspoon has bought the film rights to the 2010 book The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her by Robin Gerber, and plans to bring to life the rich history of the iconic doll on-screen.  

The book is described as “a fascinating account of how one visionary woman and her product changed an industry and sparked a lasting debate about women’s roles.”


Witherspoon’s company, Pacific Standard, aims to bring fully rounded female roles to the big screen – ones that without a doubt pass the Bechdel test – and has already produced massive hits such as Gone Girl and Wild, with Witherspoon starring in the latter.

Barbie was created by Ruth Handler in 1959, who became inspired after watching her daughter Barbara play with paper dolls. 

Handler realised that there was a gap in the market for a more modern doll that is a woman as oppose to a child, as many toys before Barbie were.

And Barbie's history is just as rich and fascinating as Handler's.

The actual design for Barbie herself was inspired by a German adult toy named Bilb Lilli that Handler and her husband, who worked at Mattel, discovered while travelling around Europe.

This film alongside Sony's live-action Barbie movie that is also in the works just proves that, whether you love her or hate her, Barbie's not going anywhere soon.

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Hayley Kadrou

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