Barbie, whose “real” name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy company Mattel.
She was launched in March 1959 and was an immediate market success - around 300,000 dolls were sold in that year (the first doll was sold for $3.00).
The mere mention of “Barbie” elicits a reaction and her name has been the subject of numerous controversies involving her lifestyle. "Barbie Syndrome" is a term that has been used to depict the desire to have the physical appearance and lifestyle of the Barbie doll.
Over the years Barbie has collaborated with more than 75 different fashion designers, has had a dream house, a boyfriend - Ken (named after the son of Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler) -, more than 50 pets, 130 careers and 40 different nationalities. Barbie is everywhere with girls today, a phenomenon that I have never really understood. Fortunately I never owned a Barbie doll - I always preferred baby dolls but eventually, somewhat unwillingly, bought some. For me, Barbie represents a frivolous life of which I am not fond.
This month an artist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nickolay Lamn, recreated the doll using proportions of the average 19-year-old woman: her neck is nearly twice as wide, her legs shorter and her head a tiny bit smaller. He said he wanted to see if an average-sized Barbie had market potential, and was pleased with how well she turned out.