Since her creation in 1959, Barbie has become one of the most iconic dolls in the world.
From her origins as a teenage fashion model to her diverse range of careers, the Barbie brand has captivated generations of children and collectors alike.
If you’re looking for facts about Barbie, you’ve come to the right place – as we have 24 of them that explore her original inspiration, record-breaking sales, and evolution over the years!
Barbie was launched on March 9, 1959, making her 64 years old. Ruth Handler, the woman who created Barbie, realized the business potential of dolls having adult bodies because her daughter preferred playing with dolls that looked more like adults.
Barbie dolls were the first mass-produced toys in the United States to have adult features. They’re manufactured by Mattel, a toy company founded in 1945 by Harold “Matt” Matson, Ruth Handler, and Ruth’s husband, Elliot.
Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, inspired by Ruth and Elliot Handler’s daughter Barbara. Meanwhile, Ken (launched in 1961) was named after their son, Kenneth.
The Bild Lilli doll, a German fashion doll, inspired Barbie’s appearance.
The first-ever Barbie doll, a teenage fashion model, was sold for only $3 in 1959.
In 2006 a mint-condition first-edition Barbie sold for an incredible $27,450!
The best-selling Barbie of all time is the Totally Hair Barbie. Released in 1992, this special edition Barbie had hair so long it reached her toes.
Carol Spencer, the fashion designer behind Totally Hair Barbie’s outfit, worked for Mattel for 35 years. When she retired, Mattel released a Carol Spencer Barbie to honor her years of hard work.
Mattel released the world’s first transgender Barbie on May 25, 2022. The doll was created to honor Laverne Cox, the first Emmy-nominated transgender actress, and was created in her image.
Barbie has had over 200 different jobs over the years. She’s been an astronaut, a doctor, a rock star, a computer engineer, and even the President of the United States!
Danish Norwegian pop group Aqua’s Barbie Girl was voted the worst song of the 1990s.
Mattel tried to sue Aqua for trademark infringement and negatively affecting Barbie’s brand image due to Barbie Girl’s raunchy lyrics. The lawsuit was eventually dropped as the song was considered a parody.
In 1967 Twiggy, a British supermodel, became the first celebrity to have a Barbie created in their image. Today, there are a ton of celebrity Barbie dolls, including Katy Perry, Zendaya, and J.K. Rowling.
On Valentine’s Day 2004, Mattel announced that Barbie and Ken had broken up. According to Mattel’s vice president of marketing, the couple needed some quality time apart.
Ken eventually won back Barbie on Valentine’s Day 2011 with the help of people who voted for their reunion on Barbie and Ken’s websites and Facebook pages.
In 1982 Mattel faced massive backlash from parents after releasing a pregnant version of the Midge doll, one of Barbie’s friends. Pregnant Midge was recalled, only to resurface 20 years later in 2002.
Studies have shown that girls who play with super-thin Barbie dolls are more insecure about their bodies. An analysis also stated that if Barbie were a real human being, her body would only fit half her liver due to her thin waist!
Mattel released the Teen Talk Barbie in 1992, which could speak a few phrases. 1.5% of the dolls produced said the line “Math class is tough!” which, unsurprisingly, caused much controversy.
In 1967 Mattel released a dark-skinned version of the Francie doll, their first Barbie doll with a darker complexion. She just had dark skin, though, and no other African American features.
The first truly Black Barbie doll, Christie, was released the following year.
A limited number of special dolls named Ella, which were undergoing chemotherapy, were given out to Children’s hospitals across the US to help kids with Leukemia adjust to being bald.
Two Barbie dolls, one black and one white, were sent into space to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)! The two dolls were given an extensive photoshoot throughout the International Space Station.
Mattel also created a Barbie doll that went through puberty! Released in 1975, the Growing Up Skipper doll (Barbie’s younger sister) turned from a young girl to a teenager when her left arm was rotated. This made Skipper grow taller and have more developed features — the latter is what made the toy controversial.
So there you have it, folks! Twenty-four fantastic facts about Barbie, the iconic doll that has captivated generations.
From her humble beginnings as a teenage fashion model to her diverse range of careers, Barbie has certainly come a long way.
We hope you enjoyed learning these fun and interesting tidbits about her history and evolution over the years.
Who knows what the future holds for Barbie? We’ll just have to wait and see!