In 1958, Barbie Millicent Roberts was born - 11 1/2 inches tall and weighing 11 ounces. She debuted as a teenage model in a black and white striped swimsuit that came with sunglasses, high-heeled shoes, and gold-coloured hoop earrings. Her body was shapely with a movable head, arms and legs. Barbie was the first doll in America with an adult body.
Part of Barbie's appeal was the fact that she was different than any other doll on the market (in the 1950's, the large majority of toys for little girls were baby dolls). Dolls such as Betsy Wetsy and Chatty Cathy were designed to teach girls the skills required for being a mother, whereas Barbie offered a more beautiful, glamorous and fashionable future for them!
Barbies and their outfits changed with the fashions of the times, they've even recently changed their body shapes slightly in response to pressure from groups claiming Barbie's unrealistic proportions were partly to blame for the increase of teenage anorexia.
In the last few years, Mattel even produced versions of Barbie in a line of 'good jobs' (doctor, teacher, vet) in order to be a little more P.C. and perhaps try to shed Barbie's 'bimbo' image. Barbie is still seriously out of proportion though and is still just as fashionable, changeable and glamourous.
Barbie is incredibly popular today and is probably the best known doll in the world.