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  • Macy Brill

The History of Barbie


Barbie, the iconic doll known for her dream house, classic blonde hair, pink aesthetic, and her partner Ken, has a rich and captivating history. Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has become a cultural icon, evolving to reflect changing times and empowering generations of children worldwide. But have you ever wondered about the first Barbie and the hundreds of other dolls that influenced the iconic figure we know today?

First Barbie from 1959 Inside Packaging


1959-1960s: Barbie was first launched in 1959 by Ruth Handler for the American International Toy Fair. With her sophisticated appearance, Barbie was unlike any doll before her. The 1960s witnessed Barbie's rise to fame, with new accessories and career choices highlighting her versatility and imagination. From astronaut to nurse, Barbie's range of professions allowed girls to envision their future potential with her now iconic catchphrase: “You can do anything.”


1970s-1980s: As the world transformed, so did Barbie. The 1970s brought funky fashion trends and disco fever, reflected in Barbie's groovy outfits and hairstyles. In 1971, Malibu Barbie captured the essence of the carefree California lifestyle. In the 1980s, Barbie continued to adapt, embracing the power-dressing era with bold shoulder pads and glamorous ensembles, inspiring young girls to dream big and embrace their unique style.

1970s Malibu Barbie and Outfits



1990s-2000s: The 1990s marked a significant turning point for Barbie. Mattel responded to the growing demand for diversity and inclusivity, introducing a wider range of skin tones, hair textures, and body types. This transformative era saw the emergence of Barbie dolls representing different ethnic backgrounds, along with Barbie's friends and family expanding to reflect a more multicultural world.


2010s-Present: In recent years, Barbie has continued to evolve and inspire. Recognizing the importance of empowering young girls, Barbie has focused on promoting self-confidence, independence, and leadership. The "Barbie Careers" line highlights diverse professions, encouraging girls to explore their passions and dreams beyond traditional boundaries.


Moreover, Barbie's commitment to social progress has led to collaborations with influential women, including role models from various fields and iconic figures like Frida Kahlo and Rosa Parks. These efforts have expanded Barbie's influence beyond playtime, reinforcing her impact as a symbol of inspiration and empowerment.


From her humble beginnings in 1959 to her current status as a global cultural icon, Barbie has continually captured the hearts and imaginations of children worldwide. Throughout her evolution, Barbie has adapted to reflect changing times, embracing diversity and promoting empowerment. As we celebrate Barbie's enduring legacy, we are reminded of the countless dreams she has ignited and the generations of children she continues to inspire. Barbie truly represents the power of imagination and the limitless possibilities that lie within every young mind.


Bonus: There have been various media forms bringing Barbie to life from the assortment of movies and TV series to the upcoming film starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken.


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