In honor of the upcoming Barbie movie (I can’t be the only one who’s beyond excited), I thought it would be fun to write a little more about the quintessential doll. In particular, all of the fashion and face changes she’s made over the years – plus, the Barbie friends you totally forgot about. So, without further ado, let’s get into Barbie’s style evolution!

Barbie’s Style Evolution

Barbie made her Mattel debut in 1959. Originally, the doll was introduced as a teenage fashion model. That makes her a whopping 64-years old now, although the company has stated that she’s frozen in time, making her perpetually 19-years of age. Since then, she’s evolved quite a bit, especially in terms of her fashion sense and various professions.

Here’s a look at how Barbie’s style has morphed through the years.

Barbie’s Style

Barbie's style evolution

The first ever Barbie is iconic. She wore a black and white striped bathing suit – which Margot Robbie wore a replica of in the film trailer – and a ponytail with curled bangs. Her face also looks much different than the Barbies of my childhood. It was modeled after movie stars of the 50’s with pouty, red lips, angled brows, and a sultry gaze.

In 1971, major changes came with the release of Malibu Barbie. She traded in her ponytail for long, straight hair and her signature red pout was replaced with a large smile and white teeth. Additionally, her skin was a bit more sun-kissed and her eyes looked straight ahead rather than to the side.

Barbie’s style changed yet again in 2000 with the release of Jewel Girl Barbie. Modeled after the pop-princesses of the time (think Britney, Christina, Jessica), she had shiny blonde hair, frosted lips, and shimmery eye-makeup. She also wore a crop top which showed off her newly added belly button. And, although still incredibly thin, her body was slightly different with a more athletic frame.

Black Barbie

Barbie's style changes - Black Barbie

Over the years, Barbie has held a number of ethnicities (as well as jobs), but they haven’t all been great. The first dark-skinned doll was introduced in the 60’s. “Colored Francie,” as she was literally marketed as, used the exact same mold as Barbie. Thus, she had a darker skin tone, but Eurocentric features. On top of that, Francie had straight hair and bangs rather than a more natural style.

In 1968, Christie was introduced. She’s significant because she’s considered the first true black Barbie by many. Her body was the same as Barbie’s, but she had newly designed facial features including fuller lips and a wider nose. She also had hairstyle more in-line with the style of black women in the 60’s.

The first black Barbie to actually keep the name ‘Barbie’ didn’t appear until 1980. That Barbie had a dark complexion and an afro hairstyle.

Barbie’s Friends & Family

According to Mattel, Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. As mentioned before, she’s 19-years-old and has a full-fledged family and circle of friends. Many of whom have been forgotten over the years.

Barbie’s Forgotten Friends

Barbie's forgotten friends

In 1963, Mattel introduced us to Barbie’s best friend, Midge. Over the years, she’s had her fair share of controversies (remember the pregnant Midge doll, anyone?!)

A redhead with prominent freckles and a more fresh-face look, Midge proved far less popular than Barbie. Unlike her fashionable friend, she was first designed with large eyes that stared straight ahead, as opposed to the seductive, almond shape that Barbie had.

She was quickly replaced by PJ in 1967, although over the years, she’s made a few reappearances (including the aforementioned pregnancy scandal).

If you didn’t have a Midge or PJ doll, though, chances are, you had a Teresa. Teresa was introduced as Barbie’s bestie in 1988 – seemingly replacing her former friends (at least, popularity wise.) As a Latina, she marked another diverse doll in the Barbie universe.

Male Barbies

Male Barbies

We’re all familiar with Ken. The first male version of Barbie was introduced in 1961 as her boyfriend. They had a pretty good run, too, but in 2004, Mattel announced that the two had broken up. I’m sure you remember that – it made headlines despite, you know, being about fictional beings. But, alas, these two make-believe lovebirds couldn’t stay apart for long. In 2011, they rekindled their romance (although, that one didn’t make as big of a splash.)

The next male counterpart came in 1964 with Allan. Seriously, though, did anyone have an Allan doll?!? Earlier this year, the Barbie trailer was released. Among the various reactions – obsession with Margot Robbie’s tip-toe pose, a Barbiecore resurgence, the instantly recognizable Kate McKinnon Barbie of everyone’s childhood – there was a bit of confusion.

Specifically, in regards to the Michael Cera role as… Allan? I can’t possibly be the only one who saw that and immediately went, Who the fuck is Allan?

Well, apparently Allan was Midge’s boyfriend. He was also there as Ken’s friend, you know, so Barbie and Ken could double-date with Midge and Allan. Unsurprisingly, his shelf-life didn’t last long.

Another discontinued male doll came in 2004. Blaine was an Australian surfer who briefly replaced Ken as Barbie’s love interest. (He also replaced Ken, popularity wise, for a while.) However, he was discontinued once Ken and Barbie reconnected.

Barbie’s Sisters

Barbie's sisters

Skipper, Barbie’s younger sister, was introduced in 1964. She’s slightly shorter than Barbie and her hips are a bit more slender. She might not have been as popular as her big sis, but we all had a Skipper doll or two, amirite?

But, apparently, Barbie has a whole slew of siblings that we never knew about. Along with Skipper, there are an additional five siblings. There were twins, Todd and Tutti, but they disappeared in the 70’s. Then came Stacie in 1990, who was supposed to be a few years younger than Skipper.

In 1994, a child-sized doll was introduced as Kelly. (Later, she was re-named Chelsea for… reasons.) And, finally, in the late 90’s we got baby Krissy. I literally never knew she was intended to be Barbie’s sister – I always assumed she was her daughter! Nope, another sister. Born almost 40 years after Barbie, but OK Mattel.

Barbie’s Band

Barbie's band

Did you know Barbie had a band? Yeah, neither did I! But apparently, she did – as a matter of fact, she had two.

First, there was Barbie and The Rockers, a band with Barbie, Ken, and their friends – Dee Dee, Dana, Diva, and Derek.

That was followed up with an all-girl power group called Barbie and The Sensations. This band was comprised of Barbie and three of her friends – Bopsy, Belinda, and Becky. I guess Mattel had a thing for alliteration.

The Modern Barbie

Barbie’s Style Diversifies

There’ve been plenty of Barbie’s over the decades, but for the most part, they’ve all been relatively unrealistic in terms of beauty standards. After all, Barbie was designed to be a teenage fashion model, so it’s not exactly surprising that she was tall and thin with an impossibly ample chest.

But that all changed in 2016 when Barbie was reinvented with a new bod.

New Body Types
Barbie's Style in 2023

In 2016, Barbie was reintroduced to us with some major diversity changes. Mattel understood the assignment and the doll now came in four distinct body typescurvy, petite, tall, and original.

But her quest for diversity didn’t stop there. Along with new body types, there were seven different skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hairstyles to choose from. And it’s only expanded since then.

Today, Barbie has a total of 35 different skin tones and 94 hairstyles.

More Inclusive Barbies
Diverse Barbies

Mattel seems committed to expanding the Barbie world noting that representation is important. They’ve created an even more inclusive line of Barbies – Fashionistas – with dolls that are diverse in both appearance and ability.

You can now find Barbies that come with hearing aids, glasses, a wheelchair, and a prosthetic leg. There are also Barbies with alopecia – a hair loss condition that affects women – and both Barbie and Ken dolls with the skin condition vitiligo.

And finally, one of the most talked about new releases, the Down Syndrome Barbie.

Barbie Movie Barbies

Ah yes, that brings me to the last category – the Barbie movie collection.

Mattel has memorialized movies and celebrities in doll form quite a bit in the past – with notable examples like Cher, Marilyn Monroe, and Zendaya. So, it’s not much of a surprise that there would be Barbies based on the upcoming movie of the dolls namesake.

That didn’t stop people from getting abundantly excited by the release of the 2023 Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling dolls. There are four Margot Barbies – one with a Gingham dress, a plaid dress, a gold disco jumpsuit, and an all pink Western getup – and two Ryan Kens. And all six are fabulous.

Other Versions of Barbie and Ken

Margot and Ryan aren’t the only famous faces in Barbie that got the honor of their own doll, though. While the film boasts a ton of A-list names (Michael Cera, Kate McKinnon, and Dua Lipa to name a few), not everyone was included in Mattel’s Barbie movie collection.

But, the three that were are amazing! There’s Issa Rae’s President Barbie and Simu Liu’s Ken along with America Ferrera as a Gloria doll.

Here’s hoping we get a Michael Cera Allan, an Emerald Fennell Midge, and a Kate McKinnon Gymnast Barbie.

Tell me, will you see the Barbie movie when it comes out? Let me know in the comments down below!

7 Comments

  1. avatar

    It’s amazing how many iterations Barbie has gone through and that she has lasted so long (probably due to keeping up with changes/progress). I remember playing with various Barbie dolls so it’s kind of fun to see all the interest the new film has created. Great post!

    1. avatar

      I definitely loved Barbie as a kid. And the movie for sure deserves the hype!

  2. avatar
    Riyah Speaks says:

    I love Barbie and am so happy with how they’ve diversified over the years. My only hope is that they start doing more with the Ken dolls know. #kennough

    1. avatar

      Lol – I can see how Ken has been pushed to the back burner by Mattel.

  3. avatar

    Oh my God Allan had me howling. Who the fuck had an Allan doll? xD I haven’t seen the Barbie movie yet but I can’t waitttt! Margot looked stunning in that original striped bathing suit! Amazing that they’ve got more inclusive Barbies now as well, we certainly didn’t when I was a kid and played with Barbie. I think I might have had a few black Barbies but that’s as far as inclusivity went.

    1. avatar

      Oh, I know! I loved the movie – Michael Cera was hilarious as Allan but when I first saw the trailers, I was like – “Wait, who is Allan? Was that a real doll? Did anyone have that doll?” Lol

      1. avatar

        I definitely didn’t have an Allan doll 😂😂😂

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30ish Lifestyle blogger, relationship "expert," and modern-day agony aunt.
Sometimes humorous, always honest.

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