Saturday, March 9, 2024

Barbie Turns 65 Today

    __By Tiffany Amber Stockton__

In February, President William Henry Harrison received the spotlight focus. This month includes my mother's birthday on the first of the month. Her name is Barbara (often shortened to Barbie), so I thought it might be fun to look at the doll of the same name. My mother was 9 years old when the doll premiered and shared a name with the daughter of Barbie's creator.


On March 9, 1959, a display at the American Toy Fair in New York City featured what has now become an iconic item. Ruth Handler came up with the idea after seeing her daughter ignore her baby dolls in favor of playing with paper dolls patterned after adult women. She and her husband worked with the toy company Mattel to mass distribute this doll, and at its height, about 3 dolls were being sold every second! This huge success has led to over 1 billion of these dolls being sold since its debut.

Handler's goal for this doll was to inspire young girls to "be anything she wanted to be" and to communicate to them that they had choices beyond the traditional gender roles of the 1950s. Since the first doll to appear on retail shelves, more than 200 career options have been featured through wardrobe and accessory inclusions. Dolls have also been modeled after 6 different body types, 9 skin tones, 6 eye colors, 11 hair colors, and 10 hairstyles, along with dolls in wheelchairs and dolls with prosthetic limbs.

Although the Barbie doll has generated a lot of controversy over the years, primarily in regard to the appearance of the basic body, Mattel has worked hard to make the doll relatable worldwide through clothing and accessories, as well as skin tone. The slim waist, large bust and seemingly never-ending legs might have helped create an unrealistic body image for young girls, but the generally-accepted adult female body also endeared the doll to millions of girls aspiring to become successful women as adults.

From fashion designer and architect to Olympian and ballerina, from astronaut and pilot to doctor and entrepreneur, Barbie has demonstrated success across many cultures and genetic origins. She's had friends and boyfriends, nieces and even children join her. This "toy" has stood as a strong symbol of achievement in dozens of countries.

Today, Barbie has achieved historical renown through nearly four generations all around the world. And thanks to the recent movie, the doll is seeing a resurgence in popularity, giving it a chance to make even greater impact on future generations to come.


* Did you ever own a Barbie Doll? More than one? If so, how did you play with it most?

* Do you feel the goal of Barbie helped or hindered the way girls have viewed themselves throughout the doll's history so far? How so?

* Where do you see Barbie heading in the future?

** This note is for our email readers. Please do not reply via email with any comments. View the blog online and scroll down to the comments section.

Come back on the 9th of each month for my next foray into historical tidbits to share.

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Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also a professional copywriter/copyeditor. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help improve their lives in a variety of ways.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children, one dog, and three cats in southeastern Kentucky. In the 20 years she's been a professional writer, she has sold twenty-six (26) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. I had many Barbies. My first doll had short blonde hair. My Mom bought patterns for Barbie doll clothes and sewed them for me and my friends. She sold some of the clothes, but it didn't last long as they were tedious to sew.

  2. Thanks for posting today, and Happy Birthday to your mom! I honestly don't remember if I had a real Barbie or not! I did have a "Tammy" doll, which was different than Barbie. Back in the day, I'm not sure most of us even thought about being pressured by the way the doll looked.

  3. I have an original Barbie from 1959. I have many of the original outfits including Solo in Spotlight and Flame. I have an original Ken, Midge and Allen. A friend and fellow teacher and I use to celebrate Barbie's birthday every year with a night out. I am doubly saddened that she passed just before the Barbie craze resurfaced!