Kw-halloween-logo-small

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!

Related Stories
>
>

readers voted!

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

Please login or register to add comments


like this article?
Sign up now to get more just like!

latest videos

F1125686859234

Would You Want to Be Made Into a Barbie?

  • Yeah, I would love it if I were made into a Barbie doll.
  • No, that would be a little weird.
  • I don't know - I guess it depends what kind of Barbie.
  • Barbies are for babies.

related stories

Micro_toy story 3_micro
Movie sequels don't always live up to their originals. But that’s not the case with Toy Story 3. ...
In a fairytale story, Barbie and Teresa play two BFFs - Liana and Alexa - wh...
Barbie in A Christmas Carol is a heart-warming adaptation of the classic story A Christ...

Dear Dish-It in the forums

Jelly3
Jelly3 posted in Style:
I don't care much for either, but I chose Maybelline because of better quality. 
reply about 21 hours
GottaLoveDance
GottaLoveDance posted in Friends:
"sugarpetals" wrote: "-_-NowYouSeeMeD" wrote: I know a lot of u BELIBERS out there might not like this post..but..still...I'm gonna continue!!!!  JUSTIN BIBER is REALLY TALENTED....I KNOW...I DON'T DENIE THAT AT ALL...but personally as a person I HATE HIM!!  I mean he's horrible....he doesn't care about anyone's feelings he clearly proved that by breaking SELENA'S heart in to a thousand pieces & by almost being kicked out of a country!!!:c (not just any..USA).He also did many other kinds of things which are...heheheh....heheh....better off not mentioning!!!:D  I know I'll never be able to reach where he did at the age of 13 but if fame leads to this...then...I rather stay invisible!!!:3   I KNOW HATE IS A STRONG WORD BUT IT CAN'T BE HELPED WHEN IT COMES TO BIBER :'c CAN ANYONE GIVE ME SOME  GOOD REASONS FOR WHICH BIEBER SHOULDN'T BE HATED?!?!:( AT LEAST ...MAYBE THEN I WILL BE ABLE TO AGREE WITH MY FRIEND!!!!:c I really don't wanna change her love for Biber or anything....I just wanna see...even if for once....those things that she and all of u Justin Biber fans  see in him!!!:)   i am not a belieber but this is no way to talk about Justin. maybe he has his flaws but it is not for us to judge. u want reasons why people like him right then here are they: 1.he can sing 2.they like his music 3.he is cute if u hate him then its your problem.......u don't need to like him just don't hate him because he is human, would u like someone to hate you because of the way you live and choose to be? yes i agree he did allot of horrible things, but what right do you have to hate him? and as far as your friend is concerned....u shouldn't feel bad because she sees something you don't see in him and that has nothing to do with you. I agree with sugarpetals I'm sorry to say but she is right.
reply 1 day
BookwormKat
My 2 older brothers & I live with my Mom, Step-Dad, & "their kids". They get out of doing chores, coming home at curfew, and can all but do anything & get away with all of it!!!!!! :e My Mom doesn't like it much but won't do anything about it. HELP!!!!!!!  :bigfrown
reply 1 day
daredog
daredog posted in Family Issues:
Thanks for the support!! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
reply 1 day
daredog
daredog posted in Family Issues:
Thanks! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D it's good to know you don't mind! I think I might have lost a friend though... I asked Peter444 and he said he doesn't support gays... I hope he knew what I meant..... :) anyway thanks for the support! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
reply 1 day

play online games

Candy-100

A great online version of the famous Candy Crush. This is the best game launched...

Big_icon_(7)

Have you ever fancied being a ranger like those fantasy characters you love so m...

Big_icon_(4)

You run across the city in a car chase with the police officers.

Big_icon_(6)

The evil master kidnapped all of your friends!

Ow_fright_ad_100x100

Explore the world or hang out with friends in your own condo. Get a unique look,...