Barbie made her first appearance on March 9, 1959. She was famously created by Ruth Handler, and was -- and of course, still is -- owned by Mattel.
In 1954, Barbie debuted at the American International Toy Fair, on March 9, 1959. Despite her middle-age, though, Barbie shows no sign of aging. She's got no grey, and no sign of moving forward with the times, at least appearance-wise.
Barbie has long been criticized for promoting an unrealistic appearance. Not only does the doll have a bosom being imagining, she has a super-thin waist and, of course, legs that never end.
The criticism isn't new, either. According to the Britannica Online,
Mothers in a 1958 Mattel-sponsored market study before the doll’s release criticized Barbie for having “too much of a figure.” Mattel circumvented this problem, however, by advertising Barbie directly to children via television.
Notably, Mattel was the first company to advertise directly to children. It did so in 1955, when it sponsored Walt Disney’s "Mickey Mouse Club" show.
The criticism hasn't slowed, either, as the doll moved forward through the ages. The tokidoki Barbie was criticized for its permanent tattoos on her left arm and across her chest.
Barbie has even created her own disease. Barbie syndrome is said to be:
the desire to have a physical appearance and lifestyle representative of the Barbie doll. It is most often associated with pre-teen and adolescent females but is applicable to any age group. A person with Barbie syndrome attempts to emulate the doll's physical appearance, even though the doll has unattainable body proportions.
Notably, as shown in the slideshow above, Barbie's waist has been widened, through the years.
Criticized or not, Barbie is still a cultural icon. Her full name (yes, she has one) is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Her family has even been detailed. In a series of novels published by Random House in the 1960s, her parents' names are given as George and Margaret Roberts from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.
In those Random House novels, Barbie attended Willows High School, while in the Generation Girl books, published by Golden Books in 1999, she attended the fictional Manhattan International High School in New York City (based on the real-life Stuyvesant High School.
She even has a boy toy, Ken (Ken Cooper), with whom Mattel's top doll has had an on-off romantic relationship since 1961. In 2004, a Mattel press release announced that Barbie and Ken had decided to split up, but in 2006 they were said to be hoping to reconcile after Ken had a makeover.
Happy Birthday to Barbie.