Barbie's Evolution from 1959 to 2016
Barbie Millicent Roberts (yes, she has a full name) debuted in 1959 as a “teenage fashion model,” representing the Old Hollywood glamour of icons like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. She cost $3 (her outfits ranged from $1 to $5!), and 300,000 dolls were sold in the first year.
With her mod look and bubble-cut hairstyle, Barbie was the grooviest doll around. More notably, in 1969 the first black Barbie doll, Christie, was introduced by Mattel.
California vibes were the theme for the '70s, when Malibu Barbie (1971) and Malibu Christie (1973) ruled the sand and surf in chic one-pieces.
Released in 1980, “African-American” Barbie became the first black Barbie since Christie. Five years later, Day to Night Barbie was on a mission to break through the glass ceiling as a “briefcase-carrying power executive by day” who was “date-night ready by night.”
Totally Hair Barbie (1992) had blonde tresses that grazed her ankles and a neon mini that barely covered her backside. In 1999, Mattel released the Y2K-ready “Generation Girl” Barbie, who never left home without her denim jacket.
Jewel Girl Barbie sported “natural-looking makeup, a more athletic physique, a bendable, flexible waist” and Barbie's first belly button! The turn of the century was huge for everyone.
Those of us who played with Barbie in the '90s never got the chance to meet Raquelle — Barbie's brunette frenemy who was always trying to steal Ken and lived in her very own dream house. As for Entrepreneur Barbie (2014), she's never without her iPhone (we can relate).
THE NEXT GENERATION
Mattel has given Barbie a 21st-century makeover as part of its 2016 #TheDollEvolves campaign. She now comes in curvy, petite and tall frames and in a variety of skin tones and hairstyles. Her closet also got a makeover — the outfit options are endless!
Ken first debuted as Barbie's main man in 1961 — and he was a brunette! While his hair has changed through the years (pictured here in 1961, 1978, 1984, 1992, 2010), those piercing blue eyes have stayed exactly the same. Swoon!