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First Barbie Doll Introduced on this day in 1959

Barbie Approaches Her 50th Birthday
Getty Images/Ian Waldie

Barbara Millicent Roberts, better known as Barbie, was officially “born” on this day in 1959, making her 58 years old. She’s aged quite well over the years, had some ups and downs, career changes, and as of late, a whole new look. Debuting at the American Toy Fair in New York City in 1959, Barbie was an instant hit, selling 300,000 dolls in the first year alone. She was invented by Ruth Handler, co-founder of Mattel, Inc. Barbie was named after her daughter Barbara.

She has a very impressive resume to say the least, so far she’s been to the moon, she’s been a doctor, a rock star, a paleontologist, a computer engineer, and she even found time to run for office in 1992.

In 1961, they thought it was time for her to have a companion. So they introduced her long-time boyfriend Ken Carson, who was named after Handler’s son.

Stephen Chermin
Stephen Chermin

Through the years, Barbie had a few friends added and even a little sister Skipper. In 2014, Mattel introduced a bald friend of Barbie named Ella, created to help young girls with cancer. They were made in limited quantity, and distributed directly to hospitals.

By 2016, the toy makers at Mattel came to the conclusion that it was time to make some changes to Barbie and her “perfect” body. There is even a term called “Barbie Syndrome”, which is the desire to have a physical appearance and lifestyle representative of the Barbie doll. Mattel has now come out with new dolls in all shapes, colors and sizes.

Barbie Doll Exhibition At Musee des Arts Decoratifs  - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2016/2017
Getty Images/Thierry Chesnot

I certainly remember having numerous Barbie Dolls as a kid. I even had the Barbie Hot Tub! In my opinion, those are the best kinds of toys. The kind where you need to employ your imagination, where you give that toy a life and a character. So many toys now are missing that, simply relying on a computer chip to give the child entertainment. I’m glad I was able to grow up in the world of Barbie :)

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