As the Barbie movie told its audience in spectacular fashion, Barbie was the first doll of its kind. Opening with a tribute to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Barbie revolutionized the imagination of little girls, as the first doll on the global market to be an adult woman, rather than a baby or infant. In doing so, Barbie helped shape the image for billions of girls of what a woman is — or could be.
The original Barbie doll came out in 1959, making the doll 64 years old in terms of physical existence. What is less clear, however, is how old Barbie the doll is supposed to be in her immortal state. Margot Robbie — who plays the original, stereotypical Barbie — is 33 years old, and is the perfect visual representation of the OG doll’s image in human form. However, given the ideas of the time surrounding age and womanhood, the original Barbie doll is significantly younger.
According to Mattel, Barbie is officially 19 years old, which is something that was likely decided early on in her existence. Given the number of jobs Barbie has had, from astronaut to doctor, modern Barbie is probably not still a teenager. Her age, however, has never been updated, and is probably considered to the doll owner’s imagination.
A major reason why Barbie is probably not 19 now is marriage and children. There are many Barbie bride dolls released in the doll’s history, and it would probably not go down so well now if Barbie was a teenager during her wedding. While Barbie herself has never been pregnant, her best friend Midge famously has.
The reason why the pregnant Midge was so controversial was that many considered the doll to encourage pregnancy in young girls. The original pregnant Midge did not have a wedding ring, while her husband Allan (yes, that Allan) was sold separately. The idea of a potential single mother Barbie got Mattel into a lot of hot water on its own, so they probably don’t want to add the idea of teenage pregnancy on top of that.
Barbie was later joined by Skipper in 1964, and was marketed as a younger sister to Barbie. Skipper was initially introduced as a child, and later a teenager, perhaps most famously through the Growing Up Skipper doll with inflatable breasts. Unsurprisingly, that doll was later discontinued, banished alongside pregnant Midge. If Skipper is a teen these days, Barbie probably isn’t considered to be a similar age.
If we’re going by a literal definition of age, Barbie should be around 83 years old in 2023, and Ken was introduced in 1961, making him around the same age as his octogenarian girlfriend. So, perhaps everyone who said Ryan Gosling was too old to play Ken should write a notes app apology.
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