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Origin

Barbie was created by Ruth Handler, wife of Mattel’s co-founder Elliot Handler. The inspiration to create a more „adult“ kind of doll came from watching her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls. In 1956, Ruth visited Germany with her kids and discovered a doll named Bild Lilli. Bild Lilli was based on a popular character from a Reinhard Beuthin comic strip published in Die Bild-Zeitung newspaper. The thing that especially caught her attention was the clothes that was sold separately from the dolls, that many of the children bought in order to play dress up and create different outfits.

Once she returned home, Ruth discussed the idea to create their own doll with her husband and his partner Harold Matson, the other founder of Mattel, and they agreed to her proposition. She redesigned Lilli doll with the help of designer Jack Ryan, and named her Barbie, after her daughter. First Barbie dolls were made in Japan. All of their clothes were hand made.

Barbie was first introduced at the American International Toy Fair in New York, and ever since then has been evolving along with popular culture. First Barbie has been sold for $3.00. Barbie was released in Europe in 1961. Today, Barbie dolls and dolls of her many friends and family are being sold in over 150 countries around the world, and every second two Barbies are sold somewhere around the world.

The line of toys has become extremely popular especially among girls. The name has entered popular culture as an immediate reference.

Barbara Millicent Roberts was born on March 9, 1959 in the fictional town Willows, Wisconsin. Her parents names are George and Margaret Roberts and she has four sisters: Skipper, Stacie, Kelly and Krissy, and a brother Todd. In terms of the actual character origin, there is nothing about her origin which is generally very well described as she is intended as an average girl, it is intended that her upbringing is indicative of her future lifestyle.

Creation

Her first appearance was in Barbie and Ken #1 in 1962

Character Evolution

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the character as a toy, she has often been used as an attempted launchpad to transition to a different form of media which girls are not as interested in (this holds true to video games as well for her.) This general approach is taken with her character development as well. Due to the general lack of success of her under different publishers though, this is evidently an unsuccessful approach.

Major Story Arcs

There is nothing such as a major story arc when it comes to Barbie. Based on her intended fanbase, her stories have generally not had much continuity from one issue to the next, and those stories are generally relatively simplistic.

In the 1990s Marvel Comics tried to maintain two ongoing Barbie series. One was Barbie Fashion and the other was Barbie. The story lines in these dealt with very basic concepts. The fashion series detailed Barbie in various forms of dress (for example Parisien left bank, nightclub singer, country music star, wedding dress). The other series had mostly generic stories involving rides in convertibles, dancing in the rain, or country hoe downs.

Since then the cancelation of these two series her appearances have been mostly as a stock feminine archetype in comedy magazines.

Powers and Abilities

She's made of plastic, it's fantastic.

Other Versions

There is a semi-conitnuous comic series called Female Force which examined her creator and her vision for the character.

Other Media

Barbie in Popular Culture

According to Random House novels from 1960s, Barbie attended Willows High School. She was also a student at Manhattan International High School in New York City (in Generation Girl books from 1999).

Barbie is an active girl who supports healthy lifestyle choices. She is 5 feet 9 inches tall (1.75 m). Her natural hair color is blond and her natural eye color is blue. Her favorite color is pink. Every year, more than a hundred new outfits are created specially for Barbie. She has worn exclusive outfits by many famous fashion designers: Vera Wang, Givenchy, Versace, Dolce & Gabana, Gucci...

Barbie’s first occupation was that of a teenage fashion model.

Barbie trough decades

Barbie was always a picture of right values and current ideals, so her looks and personality had to change along with public opinions.

60’s

1962 Barbie Red Flare

For a while, Barbie’s outfits were modeled after those of a First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis – Jackie O. When her marriage to a shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis caused her to become a negative role model in the eyes of public, Mattel was forced to change Barbie’s image in order to protect her reputation. During the 60’s Barbie got her first college experience, and started attending Debutante Balls and Benefit Performances. This Barbie was soon replaced by the one wearing mini skirts and go-go boots. Along with her fashionable cousin Francie, her boyfriend Ken, and real-life model Twiggy, Barbie tackled this controversial time period and came out on top, remaining American role model. In 1968, Barbie got her first African-American friend – Christie. Talking Barbie doll is marketed, she can only say six phrases: I love being a fashion model, What shall I wear to the Prom?, I have a date tonight, Would you like to go shopping?, Stacey and I are having tea and Let’s have a costume party.

70’s

1971 Live Action Barbie

During 70’s, Barbie changed into new, more relaxed person, who wore long straight hair and a lot less make-up. She was a lot less glamorous than before. As a part of her image change, Barbie entered winter Olympics as an ice skater, a swimmer and a skier. Once the disco became popular, Barbie had to adapt again. Her image was altered so she would look similar to a rising star Farrah Fawcett. Along with Ken, and her new friends Donny and Marie Osmond, Barbie became a disco superstar. On Barbie’s sweet sixteen (1974), part of the New York City Times Square is renamed Barbie Boulevard for a week.

80’s

Andy Warhol's rendition of Barbie

In the 80’s feminist movement was at it’s highest, and Barbie has followed the public opinion. She has become a doctor, and astronaut and a pilot and started doing many other jobs that would previously be considered inappropriate for a young lady. 80’s Barbie also had a change in the physical appearance – her skin was made darker and her face more exotic. End of the 80’s was marked by reinvention of some previous fashion choices – Barbie was updating her look while staying true to her roots. In 1984, Barbie celebrates her 25th birthday. New York City mayor Ed Koch declares Barbie and Ken Day, and Tiffany’s creates a Barbie of sterling silver. Next year, famous Barbie painting by Andy Warhol is released. Barbie joins a band - Barbie and the Rockers, and two movies about them are made (Barbie and the Rockers: Out of this World and Barbie and The Sensations: Rockin' Back to Earth, both came out in 1987).

90’s

Barbie wearing Gianfranco Ferre gown designed for her wax statue

In the 90’s Barbie got more involved with the world issues. She was at the center of Barbie Summit in New York City, where 39 children from around the world joined in order to discuss war and peace, world huger and future problems of environment. Wax statue of Barbie wearing Christian Dior gown was revealed 1993 in Musee Grevin in Paris. As a part of Hollywood Legends Collection, Barbie gets the opportunity to become Scarlet O' Hara (with Ken as her Rhett Butler), Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady and Marilyn Monroe.

00’s

Barbie for president

In 2000, Barbie announced her campaign for presidency. She would be running as a member of Party of Girls, advocating animal protection, better education, taking care of environment, helping poor and world peace. This was a part of campaign to educate girls about politics and voting, showing them they can aspire to be leaders themselves, if they want to.

Barbie and Ken

Barbie and Ken

Ken was introduced as Barbie’s boyfriend in 1961. Their relationship has been a steady and solid one. Not long after his introduction comic books starring Barbie and him began publishing. Their purpose was to explain healthy relationships to children. In many of the publications, Barbie and Ken were seen wearing fashionable coordinating outfits.

Barbie and Ken have, however, broken up at one point. In the February of 2004, two days before Valentine’s Day, Mattel has issued a press release stating that the long standing couple, Barbie and Ken, have split. They added that Barbie and Ken „remain the best of friends“despite this unfortunate turn of events. Rumors started circulating that break-up was a result of Ken’s unwillingness to commit and marry Barbie.

During two years of separation there was no sign of Ken, but Barbie has been dating Australian surfer Blaine. In February, 2006, new and improved Ken returned in Barbie’s life, and despite no official confirmation, it’s believed that two have been dating again since then.

Family, friends and pets

Barbie has many family members, and even more friends. Her oldest younger sister (second child in the family) Skipper, was created in 1964. Middle children, twins Todd and Tutti were introduced in 1966, though Tutti was reintroduced in 1992 as Stacie. Barbie also has two little sisters: Kelly, created in 1995, and Krissy, created in 1999. Her cousins are Jazzie, P.J. and a fashionista Francie (introduced in 1966).

Barbie, Skipper, Stacie and Kelly

Barbie’s first friend was „homely“ Midge Hadley, but they lost touch after a while. Her current best friends are Hispanic Teresa and African American Christie. During her brief break up with Ken, Barbie was close to Blaine, Australian surfer, and his sister Summer, who introduced the two.

Barbie has had more than 40 different pets. Her first one was a horse named Dancer (back in 1971). Since then, she had many more horses, some of them being: Dallas, Dixie, Midnight, SunRunner, Sprint, Rainbow, Butterfly, Walking Beauty, Baja, Tawny and many more. Other than horses Barbie has kept cats, dogs, ponies, a zebra, a panda, a parrot, a chimpanzee, a lion cub and a giraffe.

Barbie's occupations

Ever since her creations Barbie has been taking up many different jobs. Her many careers included:

  • Aerobics instructor
  • Ambassador for world peace
  • Art teacher
  • Artist
  • Astronaut
  • Athlete
  • Babysitter
  • Ballerina
  • Business executive
Barbie as DC's Black Canary
  • Canadian Mountie
  • Cat burglar
  • Cheerleader
  • Chef
  • Computer Engineer
  • Cowgirl
  • Dance teacher
  • DC Comics superheroines
  • Dentist
  • Designer
  • Doctor
  • Elementary teacher
  • Fashion Model
  • Firefighter
  • Flight Attendant
  • Guest editor of international fashion magazine
  • Hair Dresser
  • Life guard
  • Make-up artist
  • McDonald's cashier
  • Model Instructor
  • NASCAR driver
  • News anchor
  • Nurse
  • Paleontologist
  • Paratrooper
  • Pet stylist
  • Photographer
  • Pilot
  • Police officer
  • Pop singer
  • Presidential candidate
  • Princess
  • Scuba diver
  • Sea world trainer
  • Secretary
  • See's Candy cashier
  • Sign language teacher
  • Soda fountain waitress
  • Spanish language teacher
  • Starfleet officer
  • Stewardess
  • Student teacher
  • Surgeon
  • Swim teacher
  • TV chef
  • UNICEF Summit diplomat
  • United States Air Force jet pilot
  • United States Air Force Thunderbirds
  • United States Army officer
  • United States Marine Corps officer
  • United States Navy officer
  • United States President
  • Veterinarian
  • Wedding stylist

Barbie in other media

Barbie has been a star of many animated movies, she made an appearance in popular movie franchise and she even has her own workout video. Other than comic books, her stories have been told trough multiple novels or, often, on the back of Barbie doll cases. Barbie had recorded songs in early sixties, and a full album with her band Barbie and the Rocketes.

List of movies featuring Barbie

Barbie in A Mermaid Tale
  • Barbie and the Rockers: Out of this World (1987)
  • Barbie and the Sensations: Rockin' Back to Earth (1987)
  • Dance! Workout with Barbie (1992)
  • Toy Story 2 (1999)
  • Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)
  • Barbie as Rapunzel (2002)
  • Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)
  • Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)
  • Barbie: Fairytopia (2005)
  • Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)
  • My Scene Goes Hollywood (2005)
  • Barbie: Mermaidia (2006)
  • The Barbie Diaries (2006)
  • Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
  • Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)
  • Barbie as the Island Princess (2007)
  • Barbie Mariposa (2008)
  • Barbie and the Diamond Castle (2008)
  • Barbie in a Christmas Carol (2008)
  • Barbie Thumbelina (2009)
  • Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009)
  • Sing Along with Barbie (2009)
  • Barbie in A Mermaid Tale (2010)
  • Toy Story 3 (2010)
  • Barbie: A Fashion Fairy Tale (2010)
  • Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011)

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