Meet Ruth Handler, the Jewish Woman Behind Barbie and Prosthetic Breasts

The incredible inventor started Mattel, the largest toy company in the world, with her husband.

Barbie is one of the most iconic consumer products ever made. Despite having unrealistic body proportions and criticized for reinforcing sexist ideals, since 1959 over 1 billion of the fashion dolls — pushing the mantra that young girls can achieve their dreams — have been sold worldwide. 

And who do we have to thank for Barbie? A Jewish woman, of course. 

Ruth Handler, the youngest of 10 children born in the United States in 1916, created Mattel, the largest toy manufacturing company in the world, with her husband Izzy in 1945. 

After establishing herself as a toy-making legend with the Barbie doll, Ruth was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1970 and underwent a double mastectomy. Dissatisfied with the existing options for prosthetics, the inventor soon launched a company that created silicone and foam artificial breasts and other accessories for breast cancer victims. 

Learn more about the late Ruth Handler’s incredible inventions in this short video:

Arielle Kaplan

Arielle Kaplan (she/her) makes content for horny Jews. Brooklyn based, she hosts Alma’s weekly Torah series, And God Was Like, co-hosts Oral History, a podcast on seductresses from Cleopatra to Jessica Rabbit, and moonlights as a sex influencer as Whoregasmic on Instagram. Find her bylines on Salty Magazine, Kveller, The Nosher, and JTA.

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