In 1952 Lilli was born and, as we all know, without Lilli there is no Barbie so it's important to know a little bit more of her when she was a few lines in a newspaper.
Lilli was going to be an "ingovernable" baby but the editorial didn't like it so the illustrator Richard Beuthien had to think about something else, Lilli. And Lilli is a debate in itself, a fantasy of a man? An empowered women? A drawing of a post II World War Newspaper? A polemic in itself?
We must admit that the "Male Gaze" was present in all the comic and it's pretty sexist. In a way it ridiculizes Lilli's lifestyle and choices but the truth is that in our actual views there's nothing wrong about her lifestyle nor definitely is she a prostitute as many say.
She's free and sharp, sometimes ingenous or could be ironical...an independent lady who dates men without the least intention of become a wife nor a mother and crashes the cars of the lovers she doesn't know how to get rid of...maybe this last thing is a little wrong.
In a time when many women suffered from existential insatisfaction, "the problem nobody talks about" she goes to parties, vacations in the Riviera and wears the latest trends of a very well portrayed fashion that had more to do with Paris than the plain fashion seen in the 50s german streets. What's to critisize about her life style? Nothing... what they did then to ridiculize her feminine part may be what empowers her now and what at that time seemed normal attitudes for men are ridicule, sexist and pretty pathetic now.
The latest comics are from the 60s when Beuthien gave Lilli a 60s hairstyle. From there Lilli becomes a bad caricature of herself and she's portrayed attempting to do what was expected from a woman. She quits from work and she learns to cook because she's going to marry. That wasn't Lilli at all! Eventually the editorial asked Beuthien to marry Lilli and that was the end, he quit.There's nothing wrong on marry, to kill Lilli spirit was. The last one was in 1962 but Lilli followed Beuthien wherever he went for after that he draw Schwabinchen, a dark haired "Lilli" and after her came the more explicit Gigi.
As for the doll what was once an adult toy under the slogan ”If you give with love, gift Lilli!” was eventually wanted by children, so some toy stores began to sell her under the slogan "Product for all, from child to grandpa".
Fate wanted that the Handlers, with something like this dancing through Ruth's mind, ran into that doll, of innovative construction, during a vacation in Switzerland and Lilli returned with them to California to be taken as a model in the feat that was the creation of Barbie.
For years this extravagant origin was hidden, perhaps because it was inappropriate for children although most collectors are delighted with the "dark" past of who, until now, has been "the queen" of fashion dolls, Barbie.