Since 1959, Barbie has inspired girls to be anything. From princess to president, astronaut to zoologist, there isn’t a plastic ceiling Barbie hasn’t broken.
Today, with over 200 careers and counting, she continues to inspire the limitless potential in every girl. Barbie wants to inspire the limitless potential in every girl, through representing a broader view of society (and beauty) showcasing careers typically underrepresented by women, and highlighting role models and Sheroes.
Finding that the brand wasn’t resonating with millennial mums looking for purpose, the Barbie brand took a hard look at itself, and started on a journey to better represent Ruth Handlers original vision for the doll. This started in 2015 with the introduction of a flat foot – for the first time, Barbie doesn’t just wear heels - and additional skin tones, hair colours and face sculpts.
Later in 2015 Barbie released “Imagine the Possibilities” an award-winning creative that brought to life the brand message You Can be Anything for a new generation of mums and girls.
Months later, in Jan 2016 Barbie unveiled the curvy, tall and petite body shapes with a Time Cover; “Now Can We Stop Talking About My Body?” this was a break frame moment for the brand, generating over 4 billion impressions globally. To date, Barbie Fashionistas have had over 100 different skin tones, ethnicities, hair textures, eye colours, and even face shapes since 2015.
Finding research that a dad’s involvement in his daughter’s imaginary play contributes to her social, intellectual and emotional development in real life, Barbie connected with parents through “Dads Who Play Barbie” to further articulate the brands campaign to empower girls.
In 2018, Barbie was in the spotlighting the “Dream Gap” which is the critical time between the ages of 5-6 where girls start to believe they are less brilliant than boys. To raise awareness for this issue, Barbie is launching a campaign dedicated to research and resources for parents on how to help girls transcend this “Dream Gap.”
One of the ways to help girls continue to believe they are brilliant is through role modelling – by showing them women from diverse backgrounds and fields who are breaking boundaries. Since 2015, the Barbie brand has committed to showing girls more role models, or Sheroes as we call them, to help girls imagine what they can become in the future.
Some of the amazing women that Barbie has honoured as part of the Shero programme in recent years include UK Olympian Boxer Nicola Adams, US Olympian Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, Body Activist and Model Ashley Graham, the first African-American Principal Ballerina in American Ballet Misty Copeland, and the Director of film Selma, Ava DuVernay.
In an effort in showcase more empowering stories to girls, Barbie launched www.barbie.com/rolemodels and introduced the Inspiring Women line of dolls of Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo and Katherine Johnson.
DIVERSITY, CAREERS & FASHION
It’s important to reinforce the diversity Barbie offers by showcasing that the Barbie line-up continues to evolve.
The first African American doll introduced into the Barbie line was Francie in 1967 (collectors often refer to this doll as ‘Black Francie’), followed by Talking Christie in 1968, and Julia in 1970, inspired by Diahann Carroll’s popular TV character Julia Baker.
The same year, Christie’s boyfriend Brad introduced, the first male black African American doll in the Barbie line, followed by further characters Cara and Curtis in 1975.
Black African American Barbie, the first African American black doll named Barbie, launched in 1980, as well as Dolls of the World, featuring Barbie dolls from all over the world, representing more than 45 different nationalities with unique skin tones, hair colour and facial features, each wearing authentic clothing representative of their country’s history.
Since the 80s, Mattel continues to integrate cultural variety in the Barbie line with Barbie friends and characters of Asian, Hispanic, African American and ethnically ambiguous descent.
Over 100 dolls will different skin tones, face sculpts, hair colours, styles and eye colours have been introduced since 2015 alone, committing Barbie to be the most diverse doll on the market.
AW18 Fashionistas – lightest and darkest skin tones introduced
Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has become an international icon and muse.
Today, she continues to spark imaginations and influence conversations around the world. From female firsts to famous collaborations, Barbie reflects the times – a snapshot of pop culture. Created to show girls that women have choices, Barbie has always empowered the limitless potential in every girl.
In her role as confidant to a generation of girls, Barbie empowers kids to shatter the glass ceiling, by enjoying over 200 careers - Barbie went to the moon before man, she was a presidential candidate before an American woman ran for office, as well as having also been a president, a robotics engineer, an architect, vet, dentist, astronaut, paleontologist, video game developer to a CEO, and has even been a rapper, staunchly continuing to this day, to inspire young girls to try on careers.
As a muse to the world's leading designers Barbie has collaborated with over 75 global brands and up and coming young designers and talent, partnering with Moschino, Matty Bovan, Nasir Mazhar, Roksanda Ilincic, Karl Lagerfeld, Comme Des Garçons, and many more to create one of a kind dolls and exciting fashion collaborations.