Happy Birthday Barbie!

At 65, she is still iconic, glamorous, and making waves

Dr. Barbara Christie
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Photo by Author

A day after the 48th International Women’s Day celebration and a day before the 96th Oscar Ceremony, Barbie is turning 65 years old. Where did the inception of the Barbie take place? Starting with Baby Boomers, how has she influenced five generations? And what does her future look like?

Barbie’s humble beginning starts in Southern California

The backstory of Barbie’s inception starts with paper dolls and a prior adult-style doll sold in Europe known as the Lilli. Lilli was known for her fashions and was sold as children’s toys in several European countries, including Italy and Scandinavian countries. Outside Germany she is usually remembered as a children’s doll. She was popular from 1955–1964.

As Ruth Handler watched her daughter playing with the Lilli doll she thought she could design a similar model and sell it in the United States. She approached her husband, Elliot, the co-founder of the Mattel toy company, about her idea, but he was not enthusiastic at first.

Barbie was born in Southern California. The origin of the doll’s name comes from the real-life daughter of Ruth Handler. With help from a local inventor named Jack Ryan, the model of Barbie took shape. When Ms…

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Dr. Barbara Christie
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Science Educator, Community Outreach Advocate, Nature Loving Birder & Children's Book Author.