A Barbie History

By: Aleksey Syrovatchenko

A long-time favorite of girls young and old, Barbie has a life full of ups and down. Social revolutions and political changes can all be seen in Barbie games through the years and in many cases, the social history of major nations can be charted through changes in a simple plastic doll.

Barbie Meets the World
Barbara Millicent Roberts was introduced to the world on March 9, 1959. In a series of books released soon after her initial debut, Barbie’s parents were named as George and Margaret Roberts from Willows, Wisconsin, but in reality, Barbie was the brain child of one devoted mother who just happened to have sway with a major toy company, Mattel.

In the mid 1950s, Ruth Handler watched her daughter play with paper dolls and was entertained to see her give dolls adult roles and personalities. As almost all dolls at the time were infants, Ruth was troubled that she wasn’t able to give her daughter adult styled dolls to play with. Ruth approached her husband, who happened to be a cofounder of Mattel, about her concern and ideas for creating an adult doll, but the idea was dismissed. It wasn’t until after finding a similar doll manufactured for adults in Germany based on a popular German comic book that she found the answer.

Ruth used the doll as a basis for her own creation and soon, Barbie dolls were ready to meet the world. And the young woman was welcomed with open arms, despite some concerns over her proportions and distinctive anatomy.

Barbie Games through the Years
Barbie was introduced to the world with unrealistic proportions, a striped swimsuit and a sweetly demur expression on her face. In 2008, she is a more naturally shaped woman with multiple high-powered careers, an extensive wardrobe and her own fleet of homes and vehicles. Barbie has been through a lot in the last 49 years, and that extensive history has helped her remain a cultural legend popular with adult collectors and little girls alike.

According to Mattel, who still manufactures Barbie games and products, three Barbie dolls are sold every second across the globe. Barbie is famous the world over and has looks and styles suitable for hundreds of cultures. Although some cultures and companies, particularly those in the Middle East, still feel Barbie doesn’t meet their religious guidelines, many others recognize Barbie as a rite of passage for many young girls.

Online Barbie
Today, Barbie isn’t just on the pink aisle at the toy store. She’s on wrapping paper, lunch boxes, and now she’s also online. Barbie games are popular with the same demographic who collect her latest outfits and dream of Barbie dream houses. In fact, many of the girls who enjoy playing online Barbie games have left traditional Barbies behind, but still greatly enjoy dressing online doll versions of Barbie in her unlimited outfits and accessories.

While online versions of the popular doll will never replace the traditional Barbie doll, the games and activities found online are helping to drive new traffic and interest back to the world of tiny high heels and perpetual smiles.

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