Created in 1959 by Ruth Handler, who came across a doll on a trip to Switzerland, Barbie was given the name Barbara Millicent Roberts. Young, fun and totally appropriate!
The name was actually in reference to Handler's daughter Barbara, but the original dolls were painted as elegant, sophisticated and, well, dull, with tightly-coiffed hair and formal outfits. Noticing quickly that this was the wrong vibe for the teen girls she was marketed at, creators gave Barbie continuous makeovers, making her hair bigger and her outfits more wacky - although this Troll Barbie (complete with Troll earrings!) was arguably a step too far.
Although the doll’s unrealistic shape has been criticised more recently - and modified accordingly - in the 1960s she was seen as a revolutionary toy that stood out amongst the other, more sexist options available to young girls. Sure she comes with countless modifications and glam outfits, as well her hunky, perma-tanned boyfriend Ken, but Barbie is about so much more than mere outfit
It might be hard to believe, but Barbie has actually burned through more careers than most of us could ever dream of. The last six decades have seen her become an astronaut, an army officer, a scuba diver, a baseball player, a fire-fighter, a two-time Miss America winner (which is literally impossible, but okay) and even, um, a rapper.
Naturally some stints have been more successful than others, but the message still stood: women could do anything they wanted to.
But there have also been controversies, including a ‘Babysitting Barbie’ which came with a book entitled ‘How to Lose Weight’, the only page of which read: “Don’t eat”. Unsurprisingly, this didn't go down well.
Still, despite various scandals and the threat of dethronement from younger, cooler dolls (sorry Barbie!), Barbara Millicent Roberts has remained a cultural icon. In fact, just days ago, self-proclaimed ‘Black Barbie’ Nicki Minaj references her yet again in new track ‘Barbie Tingz’, proving that her legacy will never die.