In the spring of 1959, a businesswoman named Ruth Handler pretty much obliterated competition in the doll industry forever. She created Barbie, a plastic woman who would go on to have the greatest life of any American before or since. There’s a reason for that—the girl adapted.
Barbie has reinvented herself—or her omniscient makers at Mattel have—more times than several dozen pop stars combined. With the much-publicized announcement that Barbie will come in new body types (original, tall, petite, and curvy), Barbie is looking to maintain relevancy.
Her selling point of concept and design has always been simple: Reflect youth. Now, “youth” comes in many different forms, as Barbie has encapsulates everything from adolescence to young adult, periodically worrying about prom and her startup.
Good design is a matter of knowing your audience, and Barbie’s audience has changed. In fact, it’s always changing. From her mysterious, knowing gaze of 1959 to her radiant and confident look of 2016, Barbie has successfully evolved over the course of nearly six decades, because she always simultaneously gave girls around the country two things: themselves and their future.
Check out the video below for one (plastic) woman’s personal evolution.
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