Ruth Handler saw her daughter’s toy choices were limited. She could only play out being a mom or caregiver, whereas her son had toys that allowed him to imagine himself as a firefighter, astronaut, doctor, and more. This inspired Ruth to create a doll that showed girls they had choices—that they could be anything.
On March 9, 1959, Barbie debuted at the New York Toy Fair. The first Barbie wore a black and white striped swimsuit and her signature ponytail. Toy buyers were skeptical because Barbie was unlike the baby and toddler dolls that were popular at the time. They doubted she would be successful, but Barbie took the world by storm. Letting girls imagine their futures like never before from that moment on.
Barbie struts the sand as her teenage peers obsess over Frankie Avalon and Elvis Presley. An exciting, all-new kind of doll, she’s shapely and grown-up — she almost breathes and stands alone. Girls of all ages are delighted by her miniature wardrobe: tiny zippers that really zip, coats with luxuriously tailored linings, jeweled earrings, necklaces, and color-coordinated sunglasses!
In 1965, Barbie went galactic four years before man landed on the moon. Miss Astronaut Barbie celebrated the excitement of the space program and exploring new frontiers. Dressed in a cool space suit and helmet, she showed girls they could reach for the stars.
Over the years, many diverse dolls were available, but they were always friends of Barbie. In 1980, Mattel released the first black and Hispanic dolls named Barbie. For more than 30 years, Barbie didn’t get much more inclusive than that. Well, Mattel did go ahead and release an “Oriental Barbie” in 1981 as part of their special edition Dolls of the World collection. So sure, the company went on a global safari in the 80s where they made embarrassing cultural stereotypes and faux paus. Like calling the Asian Barbie “Oriental.”
Barbie has been running for president in every election year since 1992. The first President Barbie came with an American-themed dress for an inaugural ball and a red suit for her duties in the Oval Office. In 2016, Barbie released an all-female ticket with a president and vice president doll set to inspire girls to believe they can be anything—including leader of the free world.
Barbie® expanded the line by adding 23 dolls with new skin tones, hair color, and most notably a flat foot. The new 2016 Barbie® Fashionistas® dolls include four body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles, and countless on-trend fashions and accessories.
Barbie® has added three new body types into its Fashionistas® line – tall, curvy and petite and a variety of skin tones, hair styles and outfits. By introducing more variety into the line, Barbie® is offering girls choices that are more reflective of the world they see today.