How the Barbie Doll Has Evolved Over Time

It’s striking how the Barbie doll has evolved over time. Today, we’ll show you all the changes this doll has undergone.
How the Barbie Doll Has Evolved Over Time

Last update: 04 August, 2020

The world’s most popular doll has been around for 61 years. We’re talking about Barbie, of course, the doll that has been and continues to be the favorite among many children.

However, everything has evolved in these 60 years, and the Barbie doll is no exception. This doll has also known how to adapt to changes. Today, we want to show you how the Barbie doll has evolved from its beginnings to the present day.

The beginnings of the Barbie doll

The founder of Mattel, a toy manufacturing and entertainment company, wanted to create a doll in honor of his daughter Barbara. From that creation stemmed one of the most popular dolls in the entire world, Barbie.

The doll left a mark on many generations, generations that grew up and changed just like the doll did: the shape of the face, features, and even the hair evolved depending on the styles people used at the time.

How the Barbie Doll Has Evolved Over Time

Ken, Barbie’s partner

Due to the success of the doll, in 1961, the Mattel company decided that Barbie needed a romantic partner, at which point the figure of Ken appeared. Although Ken has also undergone historical changes, these haven’t been as important or significant as those of the doll. Even though his hair and clothing evolved, this doll has always been in the background.

Representation of professions

During her 61 years of life, Barbie has practiced more than 200 different job professions. When the doll hit the market, she did so dressed in a black and white striped swimsuit. However, over the years, Barbie entered the work world.

She’s been an astronaut, pilot, veterinarian, teacher, and even an engineer. This doll invited girls to dream of their desired profession and to understand that they could be whatever they wanted to be. This is because the generations of girls who grew up with this doll not only had one in their possession. In most cases, they had several Barbie dolls at home.

Currently, you can find the doll in more than 150 different countries.

Racial diversity

In her early days, Mattel introduced Barbie as a very fair-skinned blonde doll. However, her presence in so many different countries made the company realize that all the girls in the world wanted to have a doll similar to themselves and their physical characteristics.

That was the beginning of one of the most significant changes the doll underwent over the years. Thus, today, you can find Barbie in up to 14 different faces and 8 different skin tones. This way, every girl has the option of choosing the doll that they like the most or one that’s similar to themselves. A good way to equally respect and represent everyone.

How the Barbie Doll Has Evolved Over Time

2016, the year of reality

One of the negative points that this doll has had—and, as a result, which it transferred to the girls who bought them—was its unrealistic measurements and “perfect” appearance. Barbie has always been a woman with impossible measures, who’s groomed, in heels, and heavily made up at all times.

This is why Mattel created a new batch of Barbie dolls in 2016. Although it did so a little late, considering all the problems that bodily image causes in girls and young people today.

The new doll featured many bodily changes. Mattel said goodbye to perfection and created new dolls with different weights and heights. Now girls can choose between a taller or shorter Barbie or one with curves, showing a much more realistic female body image.

2019, the year of inclusion

In this article on how the Barbie doll evolved, we just had to mention the fact that Mattel decided to also feature dolls with physical disabilities in 2019. Therefore, nowadays, you can see Barbies in wheelchairs or with orthopedic legs.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.