Barbie is the most popular doll in the world, and she has been since 1959, when she was first released. Through the years, hundreds of Barbie dolls have been released and well-received by ardent fans, though some were recalled for sending the wrong types of messages to little girls.
Mattel has estimated that a Barbie doll sells every three seconds, with an estimated 10.5 million sold every year. If you put the amount of Barbies that exist in the world end-to-end, they would reach all the way around Earth six times! That’s how many Barbies there are.
But there are some dark, rather unnerving secrets about the doll. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine when it comes to Barbie and Ken, and some facts surrounding her are rather eye-opening.
Here are 18 gross facts about Barbie.
18 Real Barbie And Ken Are Siblings
This is a pretty creepy fact when you consider that Barbie and Ken have been a romantic item in the doll world for over 60 years (with the exception of the 2004 “break” in their relationship). Barbie is named after Barbara, the daughter of the woman who invented Barbie (Ruth Handler), while Ken is named after Ruth’s son, Kenneth, and Barbara’s brother. A bit twisted that the real-life siblings are the basis for the relationship between the Barbie and Ken dolls.
17 Pregnant Barbie
There have been hundreds of different Barbie dolls released throughout the years, but not all of them have been winners. Many dolls were recalled due to public outrage, and other reasons. One storyline between the dolls is that Barbie’s best friend, Midge, got pregnant. The doll Midge came complete with an opened stomach that revealed a little baby—horribly creepy—and then you could pop her stomach back on when you removed the baby. Many people thought the doll was condoning teen pregnancy.
16 She’s Inspiration For Plastic Surgery Addicts
People all around the world have spent thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to emulate Barbie’s appearance. Barbie is an inspiration for people to meet impossible, insane body images. Justin Jedliva, for instance, has admitted to undergoing over 100 surgeries to look like Ken. Russian model Valeria Lukyanova, or the “real-life Barbie doll,” has only had breast augmentation, and has denied rumors that she removed her bottom ribs to make her waist smaller.
15 Skipper The “Growing” Barbie
Here’s another doll that wasn’t a winner: “Growing Up Skipper,” whose tagline read, “She’s 2 dolls in 1 for twice as much fun!” The gross part about Skipper was that she physically changed and went through “puberty,” which probably isn’t the best way to teach little girls about growing up. When you rotated her arms, her breasts grew and her waist shrunk, and you could even reverse these changes if you wanted Skipper to go back to her prepubescent period.
14 Slumber Party Barbie With A Bad Message
Slumber Party Barbie came out in 1965, when times were very different than today. This doll would clearly not make it past the first green-light stages today, because we’re all about positive body image now. This was also the year that Barbie became an astronaut and went to the moon, so the misogyny is hard to pinpoint. Basically, Slumber Party Barbie came with a scale set to 110 pounds, and came with a mirror and a “How to Lose Weight” diet book that simply said, “Don’t Eat!”
13 Barbie Spying On You
Video Barbie was another controversial doll because she came with a real working camera disguised as her necklace, and video was projected onto her back. The FBI became worried that Barbie’s video could get hacked, sent to bad people, and could lead to any number of legal issues, since she could record up to 30 minutes of video. Hello Barbie recorded conversations and could send the data to Mattel via Wifi— another controversial idea.
12 Barbie’s Giant Family
Since she’s been around so long, Barbie has a huge family, including six siblings, ranging from the infant Krissy to the older Skipper. Tutti, Todd, Skipper, Stacie, Kelly, and Krissy have all joined the family over the years, though Barbie’s parents, George and Margaret, haven’t been heard from for years. Some of the siblings get replaced on a regular basis, too. It might be a good idea for Mattel to focus less on Barbie’s family and let her expand in other ways.
11 Barbie’s Rebound Boyfriend
One doll that led to controversy and a bad message for little girls around the world, was when Barbie and Ken “took a break” in their relationship, from 2004 to 2011. During that separation, Barbie found herself a rebound boyfriend named “Cali Guy” Blaine, who was supposed to be a hunky Australian boogie boarder. This was announced on Valentine’s Day 2004, as a publicity stunt, though Barbie and Ken finally got back together on Valentine’s Day in 2011.
10 Addicted Collectors
Just like many people are obsessed with trying to look like Barbie and Ken through plastic surgery, there are others who spend their whole life savings on collecting the dolls. Mattel estimates that there are over 100,000 serious Barbie collectors worldwide. Betine Dorfmann, the woman pictured above, has taken her hoarding to the extreme. Since 1993, she’s amassed over 15,000 dolls and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest Barbie doll collection.
9 Teen Talk Barbie Recall
One of the Barbies that was recalled was the Teen Talk Barbie. She had good looks but was incredibly shallow, marking a noticeable backpedal in Barbie’s growth as a character. Instead of having career aspirations, she gossiped, talked about your crushes, and said things like, “I love shopping!” and “Math class is tough!” She was supposed to be a trophy wife, and Mattel recalled her pretty quickly. Remember, Barbie is also supposed to be a scientist, astronaut, and teacher . . . not a submissive Stepford Wife.
8 Forever 17
March 2019 was the 60th anniversary of Barbie, who was released in 1959. Even so, her skin is just as flawless and she’s just as young as the day she was released. Despite her numerous careers and aspirations, and the introduction of new siblings, there is no established timeline for Barbie— she will always be that 17-year-old girl. None of them have come close to looking 60 years old. And we wonder why she advocates impossible body image standards? She never ages!
7 Barbie Is A Cougar
Despite being only 17 years old, Ken was released on March 11, 1961, two years after Barbie. So, that means Ken will always be two years younger than Barbie. It’s a little odd and creepy, to say the least, that Barbie could be considered a cougar and a cradle robber . . . and since she doesn’t ever age, neither does he, always remaining, what, 15 years old?!
6 She Didn’t Smile For 12 Years
Here’s something that plays to the submissive nature of women of the past—in a time that women were supposed to be prim and proper. For the first 12 years of Barbie’s reign as the most popular doll in the world, she was never released with a smile on her face. It wasn’t until 1971, with Malibu Barbie, who smiled while showing teeth for the first time. The original Barbies were all released with pursed lips, making her look very severe and serious.
5 Her Siblings Keep Getting Replaced
It’s rather odd and leads the mind to wild assumptions when you learn that Barbie’s siblings keep getting replaced. What happened to them? Where did they go? For instance, her twin siblings Tutti and Todd were introduced in 1965, but Tutti was discontinued in 1971. Many believe that Stacie, who came into play in 1990, is her modern incarnation. In 1996, Todd was discontinued as well, never to be heard from again. The Roberts clan is certainly huge and quite mysterious, and filled with many secrets . . .
4 Real Life Barbie Would Be Completely Disproportional
Even though many people have tried to look like Barbie in real life, through plastic surgery and such, no one would ever be able to meet Barbie’s proportions, for a simple reason: it’s impossible. If Barbie were a real life person, she would look like this crazy caricature. According to studies, her legs are two times longer than her arms, her waist is half as thin as a normal person’s, and her neck is two times longer and half as thin as a person’s.
3 Earring Magic Ken Fiasco
A huge controversy came about with the introduction of Earring Magic Ken, or “Gay Ken” as he’s been called, and it had nothing to do with his supposed sexual orientation. It’s what he’s wearing around his neck, which to many mothers was obvious: a c*** ring. The doll became a top seller among gay men, perhaps because of the necklace. Mattel angrily issued the following statement once the doll was discontinued: “We’re not in the business of putting c**k rings into the hands of little girls.” Wow.
2 Marketed As A Role Model To Discourage Creepy Dads
According to Barbie podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You, Barbies were marketed as role models (instead of fashion dolls) so that dads could see dolls in a different way. Since Lilli dolls were seen as sexy, Mattel wanted to steer clear of the same sensual ways with their dolls. “Lilli dolls were funny bachelor gifts that guys would give each other. She usually wore saucy little outfits,” said contributor Cristen Conger. Barbie was marketed as a well-dressed, attractive doll, to try to inspire girls to grow up to be well-dressed, attractive, and smart.
1 Blondie Bennett’s Hypnotherapy
We end with one of the more delusional aspects that Barbie can bring about, in this case involving a woman named Blondie Bennett. She is one of those people obsessed with plastic surgery to look like Barbie, but she took it a step further. After spending over $40,000 on plastic surgery, she underwent hypnotherapy to try to make herself “brainless like Barbie is.” She paid for this with the help of sugar daddies. She told The Daily Mail it’s working, too: she got lost for three hours trying to get to the house she grew up in.