The first Barbie doll was made by Mattel in 1959. Invented by Ruth Handler, Barbie was copied from a German fashion doll named Bild Lilli and has undergone many transformations over the years.
Handler wanted to create a doll with more adult-like features for young girls like her daughter, who had outgrown the baby dolls and paper dolls that were popular at the time. Grooming, dressing, and playing with Barbie dolls opened up a whole new way for girls to imagine adulthood.
The Barbie line quickly grew to include Barbie's friends and family, including her boyfriend Ken, younger sister Skipper, best friend Midge, and many others. There were doll clothes and accessories, pets, playsets, and furniture and dollhouses too. Everything young girls could imagine doing or becoming could be acted out with Barbie.
Throughout Barbie's history, everything about the line has been controversial, from her body dimensions and clothing choices to the lack of diversity in the line and the potential effects Barbie has on young children who view her and her friends as role models. Popularity of the Barbie line has dwindled over the years, but Barbie will always remain a cultural icon.