Everyone in the world knows Barbie. Whether that may be from dolls, her many movie appearances or Aqua’s hit 1997 song using the icon’s namesake. Everyone knows Barbie, but where did she come from, and how did she get to where she is today? From fashionista to astronaut in the stars, this article takes a deeper look into the icon we know as Barbie.

Source: Aqua | Official YouTube Channel

How and When Did Barbie Begin?

Barbie was, and still is, produced by toy company Mattel. Elliot Handler was the co-founder of the company of the time, and was approached by no other than his wife with an idea for a brand new toy. Ruth Handler would often watch their daughter, Barbara, play with paper dolls as a child. What Ruth noticed was that, during play, their daughter would dress the doll as an adult and give it adult roles to play – such as jobs, or running errands. When out and about, Ruth noticed that there wasn’t a doll that matched this time of play in the market, as all of them resembled children or infants rather than adults.

After a family trip to Germany, where Ruth had found dolls that had matched her ideas called Bild Lilli, she decided to design her own. Their new design was then given the name “Barbie” after their daughter, Barbara. The original design sported both a brunette and blonde design, wearing a zebra print swimsuit.

Source: vintagetoyarchive

There were many issues with the first design however – even 350 000 were sold in the first year of production. Firstly, the creators of Bild Lilli said that their design was the original, and this was merely a copy. Secondly, many parents were conscious of the womanly figure that Barbie had, saying that it was inappropriate for their children to be playing with.

Barbie then underwent a transformation. For example, her side eyes were instead replaced with a more forward focused look. Popularity soared, and Barbie continued to sell widely internationally. This then sparked books, shows, and much more merchandise all centered around Barbara Millicent Roberts.

What Makes Barbie Different Than The Rest?

While Barbie’s popularity is no joke, she has also achieved many things no doll has ever done before, influencing the outside (and real) world in many ways. So much so, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris at the Louvre held a Barbie exhibit in 2016. The exhibit contained 700 different Barbie dolls, as well as newspaper articles, photos, and videos of the doll. Part of this exhibition was the work of Al Carbee, an artist and photographer that took pictures of Barbie in various settings. They are one of the many artists inspired by Barbie and how she took the world by storm.

While Barbie may have previously had it’s controversies, many people nowadays give Barbie credit for the diversity and roles Barbie has shown. For example, Barbie has been credited as (but not limited to): an astronaut, surgeon, Olympic athlete, zoo keeper, TV news reporter, vet, rock star, doctor, army officer, pilot, presidential candidate, baseball player, scuba diver, lifeguard, fire-fighter, explorer, actress, princess and many more. Barbie and her friends in their multiple talents has given many children the gift of imagination and creativity.

However Barbie has also taken the world digitally just as much as she has physically. Not only have many made parodies of Barbie, Barbara has joined the vlog scene herself on YouTube. Starting in 2015, Barbie started her own vlog series. In this she hosts interviews with many other characters, including a viral interview with her friend and definitely not love interest, Ken. However, Barbie also used her vlogs to discuss much more serious topics – as another one of her vlogs went viral for discussing sensitive topics.

Source: Barbie | Official YouTube Channel

Did you ever play with Barbie dolls as a child? If so, which one was your first – or which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.