Barbie may have started out as just a doll but, over the years, has become one of the most famous pop-culture symbols. We’ve put together a list of how she has changed over the decades and how she is continuing to do so. The changes reflect the shifting beauty standards and current #bodypositivity, as well as increased awareness of inclusivity in fashion and beauty taking place RN – and we are so here for it!
1 The original Barbie model was based on a German cartoon prostitute
Hence those sultry, seductive eyes! But she was, nevertheless, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman who young girls idolised. Initially, her hair was fair and her makeup was pretty pronounced, with blue eye shadow, winged liner, arched brows and red lips. In other words, she was always ready for a night on the town.
I’ve never been a fan of Barbie because she always seemed so vapid, limited and boring. Avoided her like the plague for Jasmine until the new Fashionistas range came out with a range of ethnicities and body types. So it’s actually really interesting to watch a documentary about Barbie’s origins and put her in her original context. That she had actually broadened little girls’ horizons and imaginations and gave them something to aspire to other than being a mother. Really enjoying the Toys That Made Us series so far! #netflixoriginal #thetoysthatmadeus #originalbarbie #barbiedoll #iconic #fashionista
2 Barbie’s platinum locks branched out into brunette in the ’60s
When the swinging ’60s arrived, things got a little looser, and this had an impact on the hair and makeup Barbie and Friends wore too. Suddenly, there were more hair-colour options (and by more, we mean one more – brown) and the lengths varied. While most of the dolls still had loads of makeup, there were some that were more natural, sporting more subtle lips and even freckles. Progress takes time, ya’ll.
3 Barbie finally grew her hair out in the ’70s
The ’70s saw the hair become longer, straighter and lighter, which was in line with the California Girl look of the era. This was the decade that also saw the first major change to Barbie’s actual face shape, which saw the head become longer and the eyes brighter and more wide awake.
funtime barbie 1975 & barbie standard 1973 💗#barbie #mattel #barbiemattel #vintagebarbie #funtimebarbie #barbiestandard #standardbarbie #70sfashion #70sbarbie #beachdoll #beachbarbie #mybarbiecollection #mycollection #collector #girlwithdolls #twistandturn #tntbarbie #dollie #instadoll #vintagedolls #barbiegram #beauty #pj #pjbarbie
4 The first Barbies of colour came out in the ’80s
Beauty standards in the past were, sadly, a lot less inclusive than they are now, and Barbie’s friends of colour only made their way on to the shelves in 1980. This was a massive step, and one that was definitely in the right direction.
5 Long hair, do care
In the ’90s, one of the things that made Barbie a real source of envy for many girls was her really long hair (and not just because many people took much delight in cutting it all off). Maybe it wasn’t that unrealistic as celebs such as Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande have been rocking similar ‘dos recently. Could Barbie have been their source of inspiration? Probably not, but we can speculate.
6 Barbie gets a buzz cut
Nowadays you get Barbies that come with everything from Afros to buzz cuts. Because variety is the spice of life, after all.
Regardless of ethnicity options, Barbie and her friends were still pretty uniform in the way that they looked because the mould used for creating each face was the same. And since we don’t all look the same, this was a problem, and it has fortunately been addressed. It only took about half a century!
You can now find these dolls with different facial features, head shapes and hair types so that they are more inclusive of the millions of diverse kids who play with them. Smart move!
7 There’s an Ashley Graham Barbie
One of the points of contention when it came to Barbie over the years was her body shape. Many adults claimed that it gave young girls an unrealistic standard of beauty, because we are not all leggy blondes. Obvs.
This is an issue which has also been addressed in the last few years, with Mattel creating and releasing dolls that come in different shapes and sizes, ranging from petite to tall, and a few others in between. Even celebs, such as plus-sized model Ashley Graham, have had dolls made in their honour to celebrate body diversity.
— Barbie (@Barbie) January 28, 2016
Sure, Barbie (and the fashion and beauty industry ideals that she reflects) has had problematic moments, but let’s hope this shift in the iconic plastic representation of the standard of beauty reflects a true shift in how we see, represent and interpret beauty today.