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The History of Barbie

She can be anyone you want her to be and comes in all shapes and sizes - can you guess who we’re talking about? Barbie, of course! Through the years Barbie has been everything from a cultural icon and haute couture cutie to your fave celebrities and TV characters. She may date all the way back to the 1950s, but no one can accuse this girl of not keeping up with the times. Ever wonder how Barbie went from being a pipe dream to dominating the doll market? 

LBD BarbieBarbie has been an inspiration for high end designers for years, she's even been honored at New York Fashion WeekCourtesy of Mattel
 

Paper to Plastic

The History of BarbieBarbie was the first teenage dollCourtesy of secondcitystyle.com
 

Before Barbie became everyone’s BFF there were no teen or grown-up looking dolls in America, only dolls that looked like children. In the 1950s Ruth Handler, the inventor of the Barbie Doll, noticed that her daughter Barbara often played with paper dolls and gave the dolls grown-up roles. This got Ruth thinking that kids might be interested in a doll that wasn’t just their own age, but when she ran it past her husband Elliot, the owner of toy manufacturer Mattel, he was skeptical. Little did he know his wife had just come up with the idea that would make Mattel a household name.

Bild Lilli Meet Barbara Roberts

Bild LilliIn the 1950s Bild Lilli, a doll based on a German comic strip, became popular with little girls
 

In 1956 Ruth and Elliot went on a vacation with their children to Europe, and when they stopped in Germany Ruth stumbled across a popular doll named Bild Lilli. Based on a German newspaper comic strip, Bild Lilli was a sassy working girl who knew how to get what she wanted. Unexpectedly, this doll that was mostly meant for adult fans of the comic became a hit sensation with little girls who loved playing Bild Lilli and dressing her in different outfits. Ruth was now more convinced than ever that a teenaged toy would  be a hit in the U.S. and with some help started working on her idea once she returned home.

After perfecting her product, Ruth affectionately named the new doll after her daughter Barbara, and debuted it at the American International Toy Fair in New York on March 1959 – the date used as “Barbie” or Barbara Millicent Roberts’ official birthday!

Barbie’s Bio

original BarbieThe first Barbie debuted at the American International Toy Fair in 1959
 

The first Barbie Doll was marketed as a teen fashion model and came with a signature high ponytail, a vertically striped bathing suit and was available as both a blonde and a brunette. In the 1960s Barbie books were published, giving fans an idea of Barbie’s back story. The daughter of George and Margaret Roberts, Barbie came from Willows, Wisconsin and went to a high school in Manhattan. Her on-again off-again relationship with boyfriend Ken Carson dates all the way back to 1961. In 2004 Mattel let everyone know that Barbie and Ken had finally split up and for a while she dated dreamboat Australian surfer Blaine, but recent rumors suggest that Ken is back in the picture.

Modern Girl

veterinarian BarbieBarbie has had all kinds of careers, like Veterinarian!Courtesy of Mattel
 

Any Barbie owner can tell you that she boasts an ever-growing closet full of designer duds, which makes sense given her first job was modeling, but over the last few decades she has transitioned from being a teen model to every kind of job – doctor, astronaut, pilot, you name it! In 1965 Miss Astronaut Barbie hit toy stores and since then Barbie's careers have seen lift off every time!

The original Barbie sparked the worry and concern in parents because of her grown up appearance, and Barbie Dolls have inspired debate for decades among women’s groups who believe she should reflect real life women. Barbie took a huge step forward in the early 70’s when she started looking straight ahead instead of demurely to the side, and now comes in a range of different races and has a more realistic body shape - although many still argue that she’s got a long way to go.

Fun Facts!

  • Barbie has had over 40 pets – cats, dogs, a lion, a panda and a zebra
  • Barbie had her 50th Anniversary in 2009 and was celebrated at New York Fashion Week by celebrity designers like Calvin Klein and Christian LeBoutin
  • A standard Barbie is 11 ½ inches tall
  • The first African American Barbie, Barbie’s friend Francie, hit shelves in 1967
  • Barbie is pretty tight with her cousins Skipper and twins Stacie and Todd!
  • A Barbie Doll is sold somewhere in the world every 3 seconds

Have Your Say

Do you own any Barbie Dolls? Which one is your fave? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Comments

Chayluv

Chayluv wrote:

They said barbies come in all shapes and sizes but yet you never see a fat barbie so yo...
commented: Fri Feb 21, 2014

DarkDead

DarkDead wrote:

my mom have the original one from '59
commented: Fri Feb 21, 2014

blueraven13

blueraven13 wrote:

whts a tv?
commented: Thu Dec 12, 2013

there are 218 more comments

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  • No, that would be a little weird.
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jordand08
"supernaturalblackcat" wrote:I know i have depession and i have been to the doctor for it. It's starting to get to that point again for the 3rd time this year that i want to be alone. It feels like no one cares about me at school. I really can't trust anybody either. I started to quit eating at home and at school only eating snacks every now and then. I am also losing Weight. I used to get called fat and i wasn't even fat. I have been abused by people who say my butt is smexy and huge and it's not. I have even been slapped on by them. I tell my mom and dad that i've been called fat and my dad ignore's me and continues whatever he's doing. I'm getting to the point again where i'm losing my temper and emotions right on the spot. I can't be bipolar cause it has to run in the family and my mom says i don't have it. People get mad at me when i don't laugh at their jokes when they expect me too cause i really don't listen. But when i say something funny they roll their eyes and give me mean looks. I don't even want to be around people that much. I just want to be outside in the fresh air during school but it's high school so their's no outside time. I also fake smile's at people to make them happy. But i just hurt on the inside. I just want advice.  Hi there. I'm sure you have people who care about you at school, just sometimes it's hard to see it. Dear, you have to eat. I assure you, you're not fat. (smexy isn't necessarily a bad thing)  You have to understand, that people say things just because they can, or to make themselves feel better. Never give them that opportunity, just ignore them. When you're about to lose your temper, think of something that makes you really happy.  If you need someone to talk to, you have your guidance consular, trust me I have social anxiety, and reallly hate talking about my problems, I find it easier for me, to message them. It's their job to listen, but not only that, they really care for all of their students. Talking helps, believe me.
reply about 14 hours
jordand08
"lion2a3" wrote:its beacause well people at shcool act like your friends but know deep inside i just dont have friendsand then theres bullies some picks on me for no the only place i can be myself KW so should i do suidce also im 11 No Ma'am you shouldn't. Things happen for a reason, normally to make others stronger. Trust me, nothing is worth taking your own life. If you need to talk I'm here, however I would suggest you talking to an adult.  Friends come and go. you have family, and if not, you have me, Trust me, it's not worth it. please, don't. 
reply about 14 hours
Zachaddy
Zachaddy posted in Family Issues:
Erevy one goes through different things trust me I know what it is like and I am not happy about the change in my life but I talk to friends about it
reply 1 day
Zachaddy
Zachaddy posted in Family Issues:
I might Sean crazy but no there is a explanation for EVERYTHING
reply 1 day
Zachaddy
Zachaddy posted in Family Issues:
If u need to talk to me u can but u should not kill ur self I am really got at helping people and I love to so if you want to talk u can but please don't kill your self
reply 1 day

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