September 25, 2002
The History of the Renowned Barbie Doll
A timeline of the progression and changes of Mattel’s Barbie doll coinciding
with America’s beliefs and values of the era.
To inform the audience about the history and various stages of the Barbie doll that
paralleled the changing values of American society.
The Barbie doll caught America’s attention from its introduction in 1959, and almost
immediately, alterations to her physique, character, and entourage began.
With the confusion, chaos, and uproar of the 1960’s leading into the psychedelic 70’s, Mattel
decided to alter Barbie once again.
The most significant rise in Barbie’s comeback occurred in the late 80’s, as a very trendy,
modern, and independent woman.
In an every changing, controversial society, Barbie has constantly transformed to
fit the American ideal from its introduction in 1959, to the turbulent 60’s and 70’s, and to the
present, remaining a role-model and inspiration for young girls.
According to Steven Dublin, two Barbie dolls are sold somewhere in the world in
every second of every day (McDonough, 1999).
It is incredible to think about the impact these
dolls have had on American society.
An insignificant plastic doll that originally sold for a mere
three dollars is now viewed as an American icon, a representative symbol of American society
and ideology, a role model for all young girls. As a young woman in America, I can attest to the
influence Barbie had on my neighborhood, even on my own childhood.
In 1959, Barbie was first
introduced at the American Toy Fair in New York City by Ruth and Elliot Handler, founders of
From her debut, Barbie became a controversial issue.
However, from her preface
in 1959, to the psychedelic and turbulent 60’s and 70’s, and to the modern 80’s, 90’s, and the
new millennium, Barbie has remained a triumphant image for all women to admire.