Barbie: 20 surprising facts about everybody’s favourite doll

Bet you didn't know she was keeping so many secrets!


by Jadie Troy-Pryde |
Published on

The nation has loved Barbie since she first came on the scene on 9th March 1959, and her union with Ken a little while later was the stuff dreams were made of.

She was the girl who had it all, and she has been cherished for generations.

So as we celebrate 57 years of our favourite ever doll, lets take a look at all of the things you didn't know about Barbie!


1. Barbie’s real name isn’t actually Barbie

The blonde bombshell went by the cute moniker, Barbie, but is officially known as a much more grown-up sounding Barbara Millicent Roberts. She was named after the creator's daughter, Barbara Handler.

2. Barbie wasn’t always blonde …

In fact, when Barbie first went on sale she was available as both a blonde AND as a brunette! However, popular demand for blonde Barbie meant that the doll with darker tresses became less affiliated with the brand.


3. … and Barbie started out as a ‘teenage fashion model’

The original doll was marketed as a 17-year-old teenage fashionista, with Ken later introduced as her boyfriend. Cute!


4. Barbie wouldn’t be able to walk if she were real

If Barbie were a living, breathing woman, her bust-waist-hips measurements would be 36-18-33. It has been worked out that these impossible dimensions would mean Barbie would have to move around on all fours, and would have a worryingly low BMI.

5. Barbie was modelled on a risqué European adult doll

Girls were still playing with paper dolls when Barbie creator, Ruth Handler, took a trip to Germany. Whilst there, she came across a doll known as Bild Lilli, who was based on a high-end call girl featured in a comic strip. The doll was sold in adult bars, but Ruth decided to bring the doll home and turn it into a well-loved toy for little girls.


6. Barbie is not from Malibu

We all owned Malibu Barbie, the sun-kissed beauty who would ride around in her Barbie jeep that had actual mini-seat belts in it (remember?). But, Barbie is actually from a fictional little town called Willows in Wisconsin, USA.

7. Barbie had six sisters and one brother

Everyone remembers Barbie’s little sister Kelly, but over the years her family also extended to Skipper, Stacie, Chelsea, Krissy and Tutti. She also had a little brother, Todd.


8. Barbie is friends with MC Hammer

The rapper joined the brand in 1991 with his own doll, and it even included his own cassette tape!

MC Hammer

9. And Barbie has always brushed shoulders with fashion’s elite

The likes of Gucci, Versace and Vera Wang have all designed items of her wardrobe over the years.

10. Barbie has the biggest shoe collection of anyone, ever

Her shoe tally tots up to over a billion pairs – just remind the other half of that when he moans about your shoe addiction!


11. Barbie has had more than two jobs a year throughout her life!

Talk about career changes! In total, it is estimated that Barbie had more than 130 jobs, varying from a teacher, a dentist, a vet, a McDonalds cashier and even an astronaut (she has apparently been to space three times). We don’t know how she fits in time to sleep!


12. Barbie also ran for president several times

In fact, she has attempted to get into the White House a grand total of six times. She has been eyeing up the spot since 1992, but has never quite managed to get her perfectly poised foot in the door.

13. And Barbie was also a feminist!

Her presidential campaign manifesto focused on opportunities for girls. Girl power! It also covered animal rights and excellence in education.


14. And Barbie’s pet collection is pretty insane, too

The blonde beauty has had more than fifty pets, including everything from household animals like dogs and cats, to wild species like lions, giraffes and chimpanzees!

15. Ken is Barbie’s toy boy

Yes, you read that correctly – Ken was created two years after Barbie, meaning that she is in fact a couple of years older than her beau!


16. But Ken and Barbie never actually got married

Although there were various wedding fantasy Barbie sets available, there was never an official announcement bonding these two by holy matrimony.

17. Barbie and Ken went on a break after 43 years

The couple decided to call it quits in 2004. Although our hearts were temporarily broken, we were ecstatic when they reunited on Valentine’s Day seven years later. But, during that time …

18. Barbie had a fling with an Australian surfer

Can you believe it? During Barbie and Ken’s rocky patch, the world famous doll embarked on a relationship with Blaine, a cool Australian surfer. However, things didn’t last and Barbie and Ken were of course reunited in 2011.


19. Barbie doesn’t have any children

If you remember a doll from your childhood with an opening belly, and you thought that was Barbie – think again. It was actually her friend, Midge, with the slightly terrifying popping tummy.

20. One Barbie collector owns thousands of dolls

15,000 dolls, to be exact. Bettina Dorfmann is the ultimate Barbie fan with an estimated doll value of £200,000.



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