This story was originally published on March 9, 2016.
March 9 is National Barbie Day. I assume we’re all wearing our best waist cinchers and sky-high heels while aspiring to unrealistic body standards in observance of the occasion. Barbie Millicent Roberts, who hails from the fictional town of Willows, WI, first hit the scene in 1959. According to this vintage commercial, you could buy the first Barbie doll for just $3. Her outfits and accessories ranged in price from $1 to $5.
Barbie has had many identities and gone through a lot of changes since then. She’s also assumed the guise of many celebrities — some of them quite surprising. Even though Barbie has been everything from an astronaut to a computer engineer (what a kerfuffle that turned out to be), it wasn’t until 2004 that she got a belly button. And it wasn’t until 2016 that Mattel announced it’s introducing three new body types to its Fashionistas range of dolls. The new Barbies come in curvy, tall, and petite body types, and they're also available in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hairstyles.
The public outcry to make Barbie more reflective of the real world isn’t the first time the iconic doll has faced controversy. And as you’ll discover from this slideshow, Barbie has weathered far more than just controversy during her 57 years. There have also been some very weird moments in her and all her friends and boyfriends’ lives, several interesting artistic adaptations of her famous form, and — of course — who could forget Aqua’s 1997 hit “Barbie Girl?”
From the weird and wacky to the downright tacky, it really is a Barbie world. Now come on Barbie, let’s go party.