Alexandra Houle


Thu, 26 Nov, 2015

Barbie’s beauty evolution: Then and now

Barbie’s beauty evolution: Then and now

She’s the doll that nearly every girl (or boy) had in their toy box growing up. Barbie is an intergenerational sensation, having launched in 1959 as a blond-hair, pale skin girl, and been transformed as each generation makes her their own.

But Barbie isn’t just a mere doll. Mattel’s masterpiece is the original queen of reinvention, constantly changing with popular beauty and fashion trends, and becoming more racial diverse as society develops. She’s almost a barometer for the times; a surprisingly insightful way to take a peek at how female beauty ideals continued to evolve over the decades.

The changes might surprise you. In 1959, Mattel launched Barbie with almond-shaped eyes and a curly fringe, complete with a slick of 50s rouge lipstick. By 1963, her nose was completely off proportion, and was sporting heavy dark eyeshade and an up ‘do. ’76 saw Barbie’s eyes enlarged and mouth stretch out to a teeth-flashing smile. In the 90s she had huge fluoro Troll earrings and by 2006 she took on a Kardashian-esque persona.

While this graphic only charts the change of the original blonde Barbie, the doll also evolved with our attitudes to racial diversity. The first African American Barbie debuted in 1967 and by the 90s Barbie had her first Asian friend, Kira Wang.

Plus, for most of us a look at the beauty evolution of Barbie is, well, just a little bit nostalgic.

Take a look at this awesome Tumblr graphic found by Popsugar, which charts Barbie from 1959 to now. 

I've heard of a bad hair DAY, but Barbie's had multiple bad hair YEARS...

1971 Barbie was all like, "How about this face?", but Mattel was like "LOL nope", and went right back to the 1970 design.

I want to know what the hell happened to Barbie in Malibu in 1979.  Clearly it wasn't good.

1991 Barbie reminds me of my sister during the 80's, except Barbie's hair wasn't nearly as big.

1998 Barbie looks like she thinks she's better than you.

2006-2008 Barbie looks like she has absolutely nothing going on upstairs.  The lights are on, but no one's home.

2015 Barbie says, "After all these years, I finally look cute and friendly again!"



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