At 60, Barbie still inspires little girls to pursue their dreams
By Kristelle Bechayda
Since her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959, the iconic Barbie doll has made quite a mark in the hearts of little girls around the world. We have seen her transform and play different roles throughout the decades. And despite the controversy she has caused due to her unrealistic body proportions, toy manufacturing company Mattel Inc. has made changes by introducing versions of her in multiple body types and different skin tones. As she turns 60 this year, she continues to evolve to keep up with the social norms.
As shared by senior vice-president and global general manager for the Barbie brand, Lisa McKnight, 55 percent of the Barbie dolls sold around the world today have neither blonde hair nor blue eyes.
Looking back, one might ask how this iconic doll managed to stand the test of time in the competitive toy industry. There are about 58 million Barbie dolls sold every year and it looks like its production won’t be slowing down anytime soon. The answer to that goes back to the idea behind its inception to “teach girls that they have choices and can be anything.”
The inspiration of the Barbie doll sprung up when Ruth Handler, who is a co-founder of Mattel Inc., noticed the difference in her children’s playtime. While her son could imagine playing different roles as an astronaut, pilot, or surgeon, her daughter Barbara, on the other hand, was limited with being a mother or caregiver in playing her baby dolls.
Since she hit the shelves sixty years ago, Barbie has played any role a little girl can think of—a princess, ballerina, superstar, and more. She even has versions of herself in the professional setting as an architect, engineer, doctor, teacher, pilot, entrepreneur, you name it!
Today, the iconic doll continues to inspire little girls through the Dream Gap campaign, which is an initiative to empower them that they are capable of being anything they set their minds to.