Throw on some Aqua — March 9 is National Barbie Day! In 1959, an 11-inch tall bombshell made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Designed by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel Inc., Barbie was created to allow girls to imagine what their lives could be like in the future. She’s had a slew of careers, from a registered nurse to an astronaut. And she’s done it all with a companion. Barbie was a single lady for all of 2 years. But in 1961, overwhelming demand caused Handler to release a boyfriend for her — Ken. (Verdict’s out if he’s ever going to put a ring on it.) On National Barbie Day, we celebrate all things Barbie.
When is National Barbie Day 2023?
The iconic Barbie doll and her friends are celebrated on National Barbie Day on March 9.
History of National Barbie Day
Barbie is simply iconic. There is nothing that comes close to the spectrum of emotions that are conjured by the doll, and how she is perceived uniquely by every individual who has ever played or owned a Barbie doll.
Barbie was inspired by Lilli, a German doll, which had misogynistic attributes and had a more “adult” appeal. From this idea, the co-founder of Mattel toy company Ruth Handler became inspired to create a doll that was a grown woman. In 1956, while on vacation with her family, Handler first came across the Lilli doll and noticed how enamored her 15-year-old daughter Barbara was. Before the creation of Barbie, most dolls were either babies or children. Handler’s vision was to create a doll that had a grown female’s anatomy. Over the next couple of years, Handler worked to design a wholesome, American doll. Named after her daughter Barbara, Barbie debuted at the American International Toy Fair in 1959. Crowds of people instantly fell in love with the doll.
The first Barbie doll was available in one body type. More than 60 years since its introduction to the public, Barbie has been a role model and friend to children and adults throughout. Reimagined in many ways and challenging societal norms, Barbie has truly been an integral part of the change, especially for girls.
Toy company Mattel has made changes to the anatomy of the doll over the years to counter critics and their claims that Barbie is misogynistic. In 1963, Midge was created as Barbie’s best friend, followed by Teresa, Ken, and Christie, to dispel these claims and broaden Barbie’s appeal as a family-friendly doll.
National Barbie Day timeline
The first-ever Barbie debuts in a black and white swimsuit at the New York Toy Fair.
Before women are even allowed to open their own bank accounts, Barbie purchases her first dream house.
The Christie doll hits the market as one of the very first black dolls.
Barbie’s first fashion partnership is with designer Oscar de la Renta for a clothing line specially designed for Barbie.
Barbie runs as a candidate in the presidential election.
Barbie gets her first feature-length movie, “Barbie in the Nutcracker.”
Barbies get three new body types: tall, petite, and curvy, earning Barbie the front cover of “Time” magazine.
To many, Barbie herself is a tradition. Generations have grown up playing with Barbie. Barbie has been a best friend to many, and a role model to girls around the world, encouraging them to dream big and be unstoppable. Families and friends have bonded over the doll, and passed on favorites from one generation to the next.
Barbie lovers discuss their favorite dolls online, bring out their collections, share them with kids, and watch the iconic Barbie movies.
By The Numbers
1959 – the year Barbie was created.
1961 – the year Ken joined Barbie.
$3 – the price of the first Barbie doll.
219 – the color code for Barbie’s signature color, Barbie Pink.
11.5 inches – the height of Barbie.
200 – the number of careers Barbie has had over the years.
1965 – the year when Barbie traveled into space, four years before the actual moon landing.
6 – the minimum age for playing Barbie dolls.
1997 – the year when the hit song, “Barbie Girl,” by Aqua topped the charts.
100 – the number of Barbie dolls sold every minute.
National Barbie Day FAQs
What is Barbie's real name?
Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
Why is National Barbie Day celebrated?
National Barbie Day celebrates the number one doll of all time, Barbie. Her contribution to playtime and causes over time is celebrated by collectors around the world.
What day is National Barbie day?
March 9 is National Barbie Day
National Barbie Day Activities
Play Barbie, of course
Create some memories and play Barbie with your children or relatives! We won’t judge you if you get a little distracted and start playing with Barbie yourself.
Buy your Barbie new clothes
Take your Barbie on a shopping spree. You can view a full lineup on the Mattel website or support independent artists by shopping on Amazon. Either way, your Barbie is heading to style city.
Blast some Aqua
You have our full permission to blast Aqua’s 1997 hit “Barbie Girl” (as if you even needed a reason). Life in plastic — it’s fantastic!
5 Fashionable Facts About Barbie
She is named after the creator’s daughter.
Barbie is named after the Handler’s daughter, Barbara, and Ken is named after their son, Kenneth.
Ken is younger
Ken is two years younger than Barbie.
Engineering at its best
Barbie was co-designed by a missile engineer.
Barbie is from Wisconsin, not Malibu.
Barbie didn’t smile
Barbie started smiling 12 years after her debut.
Why We Love National Barbie Day
Barbie helps girls dream big
Since her creation, Barbie has had more than 150 careers. She’s been an astronaut, a CEO and she’s even run for president! Barbie acts as a role model and inspires young girls to pursue these same careers.
Barbie is family-oriented
Barbie’s fun for the whole family! Ruth Handler created Barbie as a toy for her daughter — and even named it after her. Fun fact: Ken is named after Handler’s son.
Barbie is a trend-setter
Mattel was the first company to broadcast commercials to children, propelling the Barbie toy to success and opening a new advertising frontier. They started advertising on the Mickey Mouse Club, which greatly increased their Barbie sales. As every parent knows, kids will bug you about what they want until they get it!
National Barbie Day dates