History of Barbie dolls

From fashion model to astronaut to Olympic athlete, one woman has done it all. Actually, this woman is a doll named Barbie.

Barbie was invented by Ruth Handler in 1959 after she realized her daughter Barbara needed something more grown up than a baby doll and more life-like than her paper dolls, according to the Barbie Collector Web site.

The doll’s design was inspired by a German dress-up doll she saw while on vacation in Switzerland, according an article in “Signs of Life in the USA: Readings of popular culture for Writers” written by Gary Cross. Barbie’s first outfit was a black and white striped swimsuit and signature ponytail.

In the 1960s, Barbie’s body underwent dramatic changes, including a new Twist ‘N Turn waist, as well as a more youthful face with rooted eyelashes, according to the site.

Mattel, co-founded by Handler, took Barbie to where she is today. Barbie’s first job was as a fashion model, but in 1965 she became an astronaut long before women were accepted into the space program, according to the Web site. In the 1960s, Barbie was also given an entourage including Ken, Midge, Stacy and Christie – who was the first black Barbie doll. Skipper, Barbie’s little sister, also appeared in the 1960s and caused some controversy in 1975 with the addition of “Growing up Skipper” a doll who grew taller and developed breasts when its owner turned it’s arm, according to the article.

Over the years, Barbie has stayed true to her first love – fashion. According to the site, Barbie’s styles change with each decade to reflect the fashion of the time. Her styles have reflected those of fashion icons such as Jackie Kennedy.

Senior Beth Sandahl said she remembers playing with Barbies when she was younger and that she thinks she got her first Barbie doll when she was in preschool.

“My Barbies never wore shoes because I thought their feet looked fat,” she said.

She said one of her favorite dolls was the one whose hair changed length when she turned her arm.

Senior Lisa Groves said she had three older sisters so most of her Barbies used to belong to them.

“I liked dressing them up . with different clothes combinations,” she said. Groves said some of her favorite games to play with Barbies were wedding and house.

“I remember making tears for the dolls,” she said.