Uh-oh. I’m contributing to the Barbie mania a little more. Sorry.
But this was interesting, and I hadn’t thought about it before! The Vagina Museum posted a thread about the long history of portrayals of the female genitalia, and I was surprised to realize that Greek sculpture did the same thing — Praxiteles was sculpting Aphrodite with a Barbie crotch in the 4th century BCE. It was a whole trend for centuries: male nudes get the anatomically correct treatment, while female nudes get a smooth featureless curve.
This says something about Western cultures different attitudes towards men and women. I wonder what effect this has had on women’s ideas about their bodies.
At least we took a step towards gender equality in 1961 when Mattel castrated Ken and made his crotch identical to that of Barbie.