Did you know that America had a female astronaut, who went to the moon before Neil Armstrong? That this same woman ran for President, six times, years before Hillary Clinton won the Democratic ticket? And that despite celebrating her 59th anniversary this year, she has one of the world’s fastest growing Instagram accounts, focusing on fashion?

Her name is Barbara Millicent Roberts; you probably know her as Barbie!

A powerful 59 year legacy

On Friday, 9 March 2018, the Barbie brand celebrates its 59th anniversary, yet this global icon remains as youthful, and relevant, as ever! Barbie is still the most popular toy and doll brand worldwide, with a 99% brand awareness across over 150 countries around the world; over 14 million Facebook fans, more than 4.5 million monthly app users, over 4 million active website users, 3.2 million YouTube subscribers, 268 000 Twitter followers, and one of the world’s fastest growing Instagram accounts – @Barbiestyle – currently sitting at a whopping 1.9 million followers.

Over the years, Barbie has been inspiring little girls, empowering them through creative play to imagine the possibilities of being anything they want to be.

She may have started her life as a teenage fashion model, but just one year later, she was promoted to fashion editor. And the year after that, she shattered the plastic ceiling and entered the working world as a ‘career gal’. She’s been an aerobics instructor, a ballerina, a fashion designer and an Olympic athlete, as well as a Marine Corps sergeant, firefighter and airline pilot. In fact, Barbie has over 180 careers on her resume; any career you can imagine, Barbie has been there and done that, inspiring little girls to dream big and reach for the sky.

In 2011, Barbie committed to entering into a new career every year, specifically those that are traditionally under-represented by women, such as computer engineering, film directing, and entrepreneurship. Of late, she has even broken into the spy world, and tried her hand at being a superhero.

Breaking boundaries, shattering stereotypes

 In 2015, in a bid to provide girls all over the world with role models who looked just like them, she broke more boundaries when she hit shelves in a variety of skin tones and hair textures. This was closely followed by different body types in 2016, to better represent a more varied and authentic reality. The stereotype-shattering Fashionista range now includes four body types (the original and three new shapes – petite, curvy, and tall), seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles and countless on-trend fashions and accessories.

Girls across the globe can now choose to play with a Barbie who looks just like them, or create a group of friends who is more like their own group of friends at school.

It’s no wonder Barbie’s image is used on over 45 consumer product categories, from clothing, shoes, accessories and linen, to stationery, games, magazines, books, sporting goods, consumer electronics and even food items.

Wherever children across the world see Barbie’s image, they don’t see a doll, but rather a world of limitless possibilities and opportunities. Barbie is a brand that celebrates the power of imaginative play, and empowers children – especially young girls – to dream big.

In South Africa alone, over 10 million units of Barbie emblazoned consumer products were sold in 2017, from clothing lines reminding kids that It’s Great to Be a Girl, and encouraging them to Make Things Happen, to school bags, stationery and scatter cushions reminding them to Dream BIG, Think the Unthinkable, and Always Show your Sparkle.

The evolution continues

 The celebration of Barbie’s 59th anniversary in March brings with it a host of new goodies for girls from all walks of life, from new dolls in the Fashionista range that better reflect the world girls see around them and bring imaginative play even closer to home; to new clothing ranges, linen lines, jewellery, accessories and sporting goods – all championing Barbie’s go getter attitude.

Today, the bedrooms, toy boxes, closets and pencil cases of girls around the world are bulging with Barbie branded goodies, serving as a constant reminder that there is no dream too big, no wish too wild, no ambition too elaborate – imagine the possibilities! #YouCanBeAnything

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, Barbie Creator


Susann is a travel, parenting, beauty and lifestyle blogger in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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