For over 60 years Barbie dolls have been an integral part of almost every child’s life. This classic doll has renewed the meaning of playtime for children. With its distinctive characteristics, it has managed to mesmerize both kids and adult doll collectors. It has tapped into the diverse markets of over 150 countries and has successfully molded itself in unique cultures. These dolls are vastly inspired from various strong women personalities from the areas of pop culture, entertainment, science, music, and politics, which makes its all the more interesting.
This obviously makes one think how was the idea for this iconic doll was conceived?
It all started when Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel Toys observed her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls. She noted how her daughter used her creativity by giving the dolls certain adult roles. This made Ruth contemplate over the significance of imagination in play time. She also recognized that there is an absence of three-dimensional dolls for children in the market.
Initially when she proposed this idea to her husband Elliot Handler, the co-founder of Mattel Toys, he too seemed skeptical about its potential, like other stakeholders in the company. But all the cynicism took a backseat when Ruth discovered a German doll known as Bild Lilli. This doll was exactly what Ruth wanted to introduce in America.
As soon as she returned back to the States, she immediately started working on her version of the doll. She redesigned the doll and named it after her inspiration, i.e. her daughter Barbara, and the world got its beloved darling Barbie. The first Barbie model, i.e. the Teenage Fashion Doll was wearing a black and white striped swimming suit, and sunglasses. Her hair was available in a blonde or a brunette shade, which was tied up in a high ponytail. It debuted in 1959 at the New York Toy Fair.
Ruth’s Barbie doll gradually found its solid ground in the market, and then the toy company started producing various Barbie accessories and play kits too. They designed an extensive collection of playsets comprising of dollhouses, miniature vehicles, workplace playsets and furniture, so that they kids could have the most enjoyable experience.
One of the most popular variants of the Barbie dolls are those where she is portrayed as an independent career oriented woman. Registered nurse, astronaut, doctor, fire fighter, pilot, president, etc. are some of the best dolls that inspire little girls to dream big.
Since its inception, the Barbie doll has transformed in so many ways for so many generations. The past 61 glorious years of the Barbie figurines truly tell us how a single perspective can reform the way we look at things.