“My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.”
- Ruth Handler (creator of the Barbie doll, shown left), on being inspired by her young daughter Barbara’s fascination with teenage life and love for fashion dolls.
Ruth and Elliot Handler (shown here) founded Mattel Creations in 1945, and 14 years later, Ruth Handler gave the world the Barbie doll. When asked her relationship to Barbie, Ruth simply replied, "I'm Barbie's mom."
The inspiration for Barbie came as Ruth watched her daughter Barbara playing with paper dolls. Barbara and her friends used them to play adult or teenage make-believe, imagining roles as college students, cheerleaders and adults with careers. Ruth immediately recognized that experimenting with the future from a safe distance through pretend play was an important part of growing up. She also noticed a product void and was determined to fill that niche with a three-dimensional fashion doll.
Several years and many designs later, Mattel introduced Barbie, the Teen-Age Fashion Model, to skeptical toy buyers at the annual Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959. Never before had they seen a doll so completely unlike the baby and toddler dolls popular at the time.
Today, with a professional resume thicker than a phonebook, a circle of friends that rival any social network and a community of caring that spans the globe, Barbie continues to find new ways to inspire and encourage the next generation of girls.