“Dolls fire our collective imagination,

for better and - too often - for worse.”

–Ellen Datlow

 

The Barbie doll was first launched by the American toy company, Mattel Inc., on 9th March 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York. The toy by conceived by businesswoman Ruth Handler, inspired by and named after her daughter Barbara.

The creation of the Barbie set in motion an unprecedented revolution in the global toy industry. With the name “Barbie” often synonymizing the word “doll” itself, the brand carved itself a historic mark within popular consumer culture. The Barbie brand-name saw its offshoots in multiple media and merchandise, such as films, games, music and other spin-offs, and over the years transformed into a globally recognized symbol of fashion and girlhood. While the brand has seen multiple controversies over the years, especially dealing with the doll’s unrealistic body-proportions and fixed messaged of femininity, as well as the lack of racial representation, the Barbie has evolved over time cater to a diverse audience. A strong symbol of cultural value, the Barbie continues to be recognized as cross-generational phenomenon. Presently, over a billion of the dolls have been sold, and the Barbie continues to be Mattel Inc.’s largest and most profitable product line.