Barbie at 50 - The Most Famous Doll in the World


50 years ago Barbie Millicent Roberts first appeared in the world of toys. Barbie, as everyone called her, has become the most successful toy doll in history.

According to Barbie's parents,the Mattel Company, 90% of all American girls between 3 and 10 have at least one Barbie at home.

In today's world, however, Barbie is facing an identity crisis. There are many rivals on the market. Bratz dolls, for example, came to life seven years ago. They look more like today's pop stars with lots of makeup and miniskirts. Today Bratz is a challenge for Barbie, as the company offers a wide variety of clothing too.

It seems that Barbie has lost her appeal to older girls. "For younger girls playing with a Barbie is much fun, but when you get older you want something more chic and modern," says a shop assistant in a New York toy store.

Indeed, sales have been going down over the past year, partly because of the world's economic crisis.

Barbie still has a lot going for her. More and more doll lovers all over the globe have become collectors. They trade Barbies or buy them on eBay. Other look for special and rare Barbie dolls, like Scarlett O'Hara from "Gone with the Wind".

On the international scene, Barbie remains number one. Although Matell has been selling fewer Barbies in the United States over the past year, sales in other countries has been going up. In January Matell  opened its first Barbie store in Shanghai, where girls can shop, eat or even become their own fashion designer.



Barbie is present in the virtual world too. At users can play games and chat with other Barbie fans. there are Facebook groups and YouTube channels, all dedicated to one women-Barbie.

Barbie has changed her image many times over the past decades. Originally she wore blond pony tails and had bright red lips. In the 80s she changed to a more colourful neon look.

For her 50th birthday Matell is planning some big events. Fashion designers from all over the world have been called to make new clothes for Barbie. She is also scheduled to be a big star during a New York fashion  week.

How long will Barbie stay on as a celebrity in the world of toy dolls. Hard to stay, but 50 is definitely not the age to retire.



  • according to = as the company says
  • a lot going for you = to have many advantages and good sides
  • although = even though
  • appeal = something that makes you like her
  • appear = show up, to be seen
  • challenge = something difficult, but you still want to do it
  • chic = fashionable and expensive
  • dedicated = to care only for one thing or person
  • definitely = without any doubt
  • economic =everything that is about the economy
  • face = look at, deal with
  • globe = world
  • originally = at first
  • ponytail = hair pulled back and tied together; it falls back like a horse's tail
  • rare = you cannot see them very often
  • remain = stay
  • retire = to stop working because you are too old
  • rival = other companies that want to sell toys
  • sales = the selling of a product
  • scheduled = it is planned that..
  • stay on = to stay in the world of toys
  • virtual = not real = here: the world of the Internet