For the past six decades, a well-known doll named Barbie has been setting trends and making news. She comes from humble beginnings, yet has always been a role model and icon. She has used her influence and ambition to create one of the most powerful universes. Listing out her friends, careers, outfits, talents and products would take days!
Over one billion Barbie dolls have been sold, and one is said to be sold every three seconds. The line behind the toy, Mattel, has made true waves in business, in customers’ lives and in society, since Barbie promotes female independence and an idealized lifestyle that can be shared with friends. Speaking of...Where did she come from? What has been the most popular Barbie over the years? How tall is she? Where does she live? Who is she brunching with these days? Here are 15 facts about Barbie!
15 She is almost 60!
On March 9, 1959, Barbie was born, as she was introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Ruth Handler, the inventor of Barbie, was excited to introduce the doll to the world...though - believe it or not - Barbie was not an immediate success. The product needed to get in front of more eyes, so the company turned to advertising - specifically, television ads that ran during a Disney show, “The Mickey Mouse Club”. Mattel is now credited as being the first toy company with commercials that were aimed at children, and Barbie commercials apparently helped make several specific children famous; Mila Kunis’, Christina Applegate’s and Maureen McCormick’s first gigs were advertising this famous doll! Think they celebrate Barbie on the ninth day of March every year with their daughters?
14 She has had over 150 careers!
Artist. Yoga teacher. Dentist. Vet. Army officer. UNICEF ambassador. Firefighter. Lifeguard. Engineer. Paleontologist. SeaWorld trainer. Pilot. NASCAR driver. Chef. Model. Olympic gymnast. Rapper. Cashier. Scuba diver. News anchor. Princess. These are just a few of the jobs Barbie has had. She has been inspiring little girls and beyond to chase after dreams, shoot for the moon and do/be anything and everything possible! She even became an astronaut in 1965 (four years before the moon landing), 1986 and 1994, and she ran for president of the United States of America six times, beginning in 1992. She has never earned the official title, but imagine a Barbie-driven U.S. Sounds pretty magical, huh? Just imagine getting a tour of The Pink House, and think of the Jackie O-inspired look she could wear at her inauguration!
13 She has a risqué origin!
Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, because she was named after Barbara Handler - the daughter of Ruth and her husband, Elliot. In 2002, Barbara Handler even helped Barbie place her tiny handprints and footprints on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. And Ken? He is named after Ruth’s son, Kenneth Handler!
Inspiration for Barbie’s physical appearance, though, came from a risqué German doll: Bild Lilli. Created in 1952, this doll drew its inspiration a high-end call girl named Lilli, who was featured in a comic-strip called “Bild-Zeitung”. While Barbie can be found at almost any retail store, Bild Lilli was sold in bars and tobacco shops.
Another interesting tidbit is that Barbie had a co-designer: Jack Ryan, an engineer and professional missile designer who was the sixth husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor.
12 She has been in legal trouble!
Barbie has, unfortunately, been involved in legal cases involving photographs (like Food Chain Barbie, which depicted Barbie in a blender), the rainforest (since Greenpeace said Mattel wasn’t interested in the wasteful origins of Barbie’s pink box….so the company eventually adopted a paper sustainability policy), music (everyone knows the song) and commercials (such as past automobile ads that may or may not have featured Barbie and Ken).
There have also been parodies surrounding the toy line; ever heard of Barbie Crystal Meth Lab, Gangsta Bitch Barbie or Barbies with voice boxes from G.I. Joe dolls, created by the Barbie Liberation Organization? These acts may or may not have harmed Mattel’s overall image.
Despite any negativity surrounding Barbie in the news, it’s safe to say that she has stood strong and remained a go-to toy.
11 She is the OG fashionista!
Barbie’s first and most iconic look was a black-and-white striped swimsuit. Over the years, Barbie gained a huge wardrobe - to match her ever-changing careers and hobbies - and apparently 100 million yards of fabric have gone into her clothes. Even designers like Vera Wang, Gucci , Ralph Lauren and Dior have designed looks for Barbie’s wardrobe. Along the same lines, Barbie has a shoe collection with over one billion pairs in it. Talk about a dream closet! Those pairs became a little more diverse in 2015, too, when Barbie’s feet were updated, making it to where the doll can now wear flats (because who wants to wear heels 24/7?). From classic dresses, mini skirts and ball gowns to athletic wear, camping gear and updated swimsuits, this fashion line is one of the best out there.
10 She is a true beauty queen!
With the coolest clothes out there, Barbie also has to have a beauty routine that matched her chic fashion. This toy comes in seven different skin tones, with hair in seven different shades of blonde (and that’s not including all the new Barbies with hair ranging from red and brunette to pink!). Up to 10 artists work on her face to blend for three hours until perfection is achieved. And Barbie’s eyeshadow is usually brown - and she has more than 100 different shades of it.
In 1992, the most popular and best-selling Barbie doll came out - Totally Hair Barbie. This allowed fans to play around with her super-long hair, using different accessories and a styling book, and fans did so regularly for years, making this toy also hold the record for the world's longest-running successful toy sale.
9 She has an envied (yet very unhealthy) body!
Barbie dolls are 11.5 inches tall. If Barbie were a real person (well, more real than she already is;), she would be approximately 5 feet 9 inches and weigh 110 pounds, and her measurements would be 32-16-29. While Barbie has always been a go-to toy, a fashion icon and the epitome of style, she has received some criticism over the years. People have argued that her unrealistic body could make young girls have unrealistic expectations - or even older girls, since there are stories of women spending thousands of dollars on Botox, surgeries and treatments, to transform into real-life Barbie dolls. Recently, though, the toy line expanded, and now, Barbie comes in tall, petite and curvy editions! This helps expand that idea (finally) that everyone is different/everyone is beautiful.
8 She is in love!
Even though siblings Barbara and Kenneth Handler were the inspiration behind this line, Barbie and Ken have been an iconic couple since the beginning of time. In 2004, though, the couple broke up, and Barbie started dating an Australian surfer named Blaine. It was weird. But fans rejoiced on Valentine's Day 2011, when Barbie told her Facebook fans that her heart only beats for Ken. Now, the two are back, bigger and better than ever; Ken has even gone through some updates, too, since this male doll can now be bought with a broad or slim body type or with a manbun!
Ken is actually two years younger than Barbie, since he wasn’t around until 1961. Nevertheless, Barbie and Ken have gone together to the beach, to Disney theme parks, to prom and even to the chapel.
7 She loves animals!
Over the years, Barbie has owned more than 40 pets. A white horse, puppies in pools, dogs in strollers, groomed animals, cats with litter boxes...The list goes on to include 21 dogs, 14 horses, 6 cats, 3 ponies and even a parrot, a panda, a chimpanzee, a giraffe and a zebra! Some of these animals came about due to her awesome jobs - such as pandas, which helped Barbie accomplish her veterinarian career. Others were part of the Animal Lovin' Barbie line from the '80s (like the giraffe and zebra). Most, though, were just regular pets that this girl wanted and this girl got. Plus, more pets called for more outfits; she could not just take Ginger on a normal walk...She needed a casual-but-cute slim-fitting outfit, so she could skateboard, of course!
6 She has the ultimate dream house!
In 1962, Barbie had saved up enough to buy her own place. She opted for a small one-bedroom, with fabulous retro flairs, before moving into a townhouse in 1974. Fast-forward through time, and Barbie’s has the ultimate dream house: multiple floors, numerous rooms, a working elevator and just enough pink in each room. In 2013, Barbie announced that she was selling her original mansion in Malibu, though. Worth $25 million, the cast of Bravo's “Million Dollar Listing” jumped on board to sell the 8,500-square-foot home. It seems that Barbie has upgraded since then to the Hello Barbie Dreamhouse, which has wi-fi and command-based abilities for users, meaning any voice can turn on the lights, activate the shower and turn on party mode for all of Barbie’s epic dance parties.
5 She is super popular!
Of course, Barbie is the star of the show, but she had to originate from somewhere (besides just Barbara Handler’s mind), so she has a family. George and Margaret Roberts are Barbie’s parents, and Barbie’s siblings include Skipper, Stacie, Chelsea, Kelly, Krissy, Tutti and Todd. Barbie also has aunts named Millicent, Lillian and Marlene and cousins name Jazzie and Kristen.
Within the universe, there are also friends, so that Barbie can escape from her family, go on more adventures and let loose with people like Midge Hadley Sherwood. Midge, who was the third doll to be produced, is Barbie’s best friend. Christie was Barbie's first African-American friend, and she is pretty popular herself, since she has dated Brad, a different Ken and Steven. Other friends include Teresa, Nikki and Grace, while Raquelle is actually Barbie’s frenemy (because - really - everyone is jealous of the blonde bombshell).
4 She has been transformed into celebrities!
Marilyn Monroe, Ashley Graham, Cher, Gabby Douglas, Katy Perry, Grace Kelly and Gigi Hadid are just a few of the women that have been transformed into Barbie dolls (or a few that Barbie has transformed into herself!). What do all of these celebrities have in common? They are smart, powerful, successful, iconic women. They stand up and stand out, paving paths in industries ranging from music and acting to sports and royalty. They have distinct styles that are copied and idolized. They have personalities that took them far and draw people in, helping in maintaining overall success. They are just like Barbie in these ways, and combining them all has made some super cute and super popular new dolls, based on these hot and powerful gals! #goals
3 She is more than just a doll!
Apps, games and phone cases, Power Wheels and roller skates, animated series and movies, clothes, toys and accessories...While Barbie started out as just a doll, she has grown far beyond that. As mentioned, her clothes and accessories alone make up a great deal of Mattel’s universe. Her friends, boyfriends and pets are also high-profile and high-selling items (since some fans prefer brunettes or boys!). Barbie herself also has vehicles, homes and toys, as do the people who play with her. Anything Barbie has has been produced into real-life, full-size versions, meaning almost any product out there has been branded with pink and sold by Mattel, making dreams come true on whole new levels. The doll itself, though, will probably always remain at the top of this sparkling empire.
2 She really is super relatable!
Not everyone can pull off a retro striped swimsuit like Barbie. No one else in the world will ever succeed at 150 different careers or own a mansion that is so epic. Who but Barbie could be associated with a call girl yet still maintain such power and popularity? Why can’t everyone find a true love like Ken, hair that amazing or a zebra for a pet?
While some aspects of Barbie’s life may be a little far-fetched, she really is an inspiration - and has been for years and will be for much longer! She inspires people to dream, wakes up new fashion sense in people and is associated with fond memories of fun, involving hours of accessorizing. Though Barbie is a world icon, she is really just like us!
1 She is always getting even better!
In June of this year, Mattel introduced a new collection of Barbie and Ken dolls, calling it the "most diverse Fashionistas lineup to date”. These toys are the ones everyone knows and loves but with modern twists: more skin tones, new eye colors, funky hairstyles and 2017-worthy clothing items. Perhaps the biggest change seen in the new Barbies and Kens is their body types. Ken is now broad, slim and original, while Barbie is tall, petite, curvy and original.A new line makes way for new branded everything, giving fans lots of new pink products to look forward to. The world was also recently pleasantly surprised to learn about a new live-action movie; next year, Anne Hathaway (supposedly - definitely not Amy Schumer!) will bring Barbie to life in a movie about Barbieland.