Barbie Gets Cancer

It’s Not About the Breasts

My Barbie

My Barbie


Ruth Handler invented Barbie and I was born in Denver, Colorado.

Ruth invented Barbie for her daughter, saying that girls needed to play out future ideas for themselves, that they “needed a doll with breasts”.


After fighting breast cancer and undergoing a mastectomy, Ruth designed a new, more natural feeling and side-specific prosthetic breast option called Nearly Me. She was credited with saying in interviews that she made her fortune twice with “plastic boobs”.


My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a radical mastectomy.

Ruth Handler celebrated her 78th birthday.


Ruth Handler died in Los Angeles, California, after a long battle with cancer.

I made my first painting.


I was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a partial mastectomy, and was treated with chemotherapy and radiation and tamoxifen.


I still have my Barbie.

The dolls in this exhibit are a tribute to Ruth and to each of us who played with Barbie, acting out our desires for the future, which never once included being a cancer patient.

Radiation Barbie

Radiation Barbie

2 Responses to “Barbie Gets Cancer”

  1. May 31, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    This is very moving. Thank you for being in the world, Viola, and for your creative fire,
    Sometime I’ll have to tell you my own “Denver and Ruth” story.

  2. June 1, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I would love to hear your story, Julia–please share…Thank you very much for this comment—I am grateful YOU are in my world.

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viola moriarty

(American, b. 1958)
Modern Expressionist Painter
2012-13 Recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant

Upcoming Exhibitions

Current and ongoing: New Works, Allegro Ristorante in Bennington on Main Street.

Elm Street Market, Bennington

Spiral Press Cafe, Manchester, Vermont (2013) details TBA

Please click this link to see review of this blog: http://citiesofthemind.org/blogr-violamoriart/

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