The Barbie doll received a dramatic makeover in 2016, the toy company Mattel revealed, as a new range includes three optional body shapes petite, tall and curvy as well as seven different skin tones and 24 hair styles.
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Despite some minor variations, there has been little change in the size and shape of Barbie since the first doll launched in 1959.
The new range, which is made up of 33 different dolls, is the brand’s biggest-ever update.
Ruth and Elliot Handler founded Mattel Creations in 1945, and 14 years later, Ruth Handler gave the world the Barbie doll.
When asked her relationship to Barbie, Ruth simply replied, “I’m Barbie’s mom.”
The inspiration for Barbie came as Ruth watched her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls.
Barbara and her friends used them to play adult or teenage make-believe, imagining roles as college students, cheerleaders and adults with careers.
Ruth immediately recognized that experimenting with the future from a safe distance through pretend play was an important part of growing up.
She also noticed a product void and was determined to fill that niche with a three-dimensional fashion doll.
Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
She has an on-off romantic relationship with her boyfriend Ken (“Ken Carson”), who first appeared in 1961.
A news release from Mattel in February 2004 announced that Barbie and Ken had decided to split up, but in February 2006, they were hoping to rekindle their relationship after Ken had a makeover.
Barbie has had over 40 pets including cats and dogs, horses, a panda, a lion cub, and a zebra.
She has owned a wide range of vehicles, including pink Corvette convertibles, trailers, and Jeeps. She also holds a pilot’s license, and operates commercial airliners in addition to serving as a flight attendant.
Barbie’s careers are designed to show that women can take on a variety of roles in life, and the doll has been sold with a wide range of titles including Miss Astronaut Barbie (1965), Doctor Barbie (1988), and Nascar Barbie (1998).
Mattel has created a range of companions for Barbie, including Hispanic Teresa, Midge, African American Christie, and Steven (Christie’s boyfriend).
Barbie’s siblings and cousins were also created including Skipper, Todd and Stacie (twin brother and sister), Kelly, Krissy, and Francie. Barbie was friendly with Blaine, an Australian surfer, during her split with Ken in 2004.
From her early days as a teenage fashion model, Barbie has appeared as an astronaut, surgeon, Olympic athlete, downhill skier, aerobics instructor, TV news reporter, vet, rock star, doctor, army officer, air force pilot, summit diplomat, rap musician, presidential candidate (party undefined), baseball player, scuba diver, lifeguard, fire-fighter, engineer, dentist, and many more.
When Barbie first burst into the toy shops, just as the 1960s were breaking, the doll market consisted mostly of babies, designed for girls to cradle, rock and feed.
By creating a doll with adult features, Mattel enabled girls to become anything they wanted to be.