Whose real name is Barbara Millicent Roberts?

And the answer: Barbie.

Photo credit: Barbie.com

In the 1950s, the co-founder of the Mattel toy company, Ruth Handler, envisioned a 3-D doll that would inspire girls. Handler had two real-life children named Barbara and Ken, who inspired the names of the dolls.

Barbie came to life (so to speak) after Handler realized that paper dolls and baby dolls were not sufficient for her children to enjoy. Beyond that, she wanted a doll that her daughter could see herself in and aspire to. Thus, Barbie was born. In its first year of sales, Barbie became the biggest selling fashion doll of all time. With each rerelease and new outfit, sales surged again. In response to demand, Ken was released as Barbie's boyfriend.  

Barbie has also received significant criticism. Many were concerned that Barbie's figure was too suggestive, her aspirations too materialistic, and her message not wholly positive. In response, Mattel developed a commitment to boosting girls' self-esteem and gave Barbie a cosmopolitan sense and expanded career options. Barbie's resumé now includes (but is not limited to) a dentist, a paleontologist, an Air Force fighter pilot, a World Cup soccer competitor, a firefighter, and a candidate for President. Her complete list of occupations clocks in at around 100 jobs, respectively (all the while in good taste, of course).

"My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices." - Ruth Handler

Throughout her many job choices, Barbie is nothing if not fashionable. Check out the video below to watch Barbie's evolution throughout history.


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