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Barbie's nemesis: Feral Cheryl is back in town

ANTI-BARBIE: Pictured is Lee Ducan at The Channon with her Feral Cheryl dolls.
ANTI-BARBIE: Pictured is Lee Ducan at The Channon with her Feral Cheryl dolls. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

AFTER spending the past eight years in a dusty box in the shed at The Channon, Feral Cheryl is back, in a limited way.

Cheryl's creator Lee Duncan said requests for the iconic doll had continued over the years, but she was too busy to make them.

But she found some old dolls before Christmas and sent them to people who had been on a waiting list and will continue to provide a limited number of Feral Cheryls for diehard fans.

Lee said she was amazed by the doll's continuing popularity.

Last week she was contacted by a New York-based design website, fastcodesign.com, who have done an article titled 'A Short History of Anti-Barbies' that features Cheryl among a number of other dolls that have more realistic body proportions, more racial diversity, a more age-appropriate look for young girls and / or more body hair.

Lee has also been contacted by a post-graduate student who is writing a paper on Barbie being put on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition.

"It was never young kids saying 'I want one of those', though sometimes aunties would buy them for their nieces, but she had such a wide appeal," Lee said.

Feral Cheryl started life as a joke after Lee made one for her sister in 1995 after they had been laughing at Barbie and wondering what a doll for North Coast hippie kids would look like.

She then made a handful that were on display at The Channon market, but when a friend at the ABC did a radio report for Triple J, a media frenzy followed.

TV, radio and press from all over Australia and then the world wanted to know about the anti-Barbie who was based on the feral environmental protesters that were a common sight in the area at the time.

A Short History of Feral Cheryl

AFTER the media interest in Cheryl refused to die, Lee took leave from her job and started making the dolls fulltime.

"It was my opportunity to do a project that was feminist and anti-sweatshop, with everything being locally made," she said.

What was essentially a backyard business was able to distribute all over the world through a burgeoning thing called the internet.

Lee estimates that between 1998 and 2004 she would have made about 1000 dolls.

There is one representing Australia in a toy museum in Spain.

Another sold in Scandinavia on eBay recently for $2000.

There are three songs written about Cheryl.

At the height of the media frenzy, a reporter asked Prime Minister Paul Keating if he would buy a Feral Cheryl doll.

Topics:  barbie



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