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Barbie will soon be 60

Blonde or brunette, slender or curvy, black or white, princess or president, Barbie is a forever favorite for young girls, even if she has caused controversy over the years.

The iconic doll has evolved to keep up with the times.

And despite fierce competition in the toy industry, 58 million Barbies are sold each year in more than 150 countries.

“In an industry where success today is three to five years, 60 years is a huge deal!” said Nathan Baynard, director of global brand marketing for Barbie. Around the world, Barbie is as universally known as Coca-Cola or McDonald´s, Baynard said during a recent visit to Mattel´s design studio in El Segundo, a suburb of Los Angeles.

In all, more than one billion Barbie dolls have been sold since she made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959.

She was invented by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, who was inspired by her own children to create the doll.

“Her daughter Barbara was limited in the choices of her toys — the only ones were baby dolls,” Baynard recounted.

“The only role she could imagine through that play was caregiver, mother,” whereas Handler´s son “could imagine being an astronaut, cowboy, pilot, surgeon.”

Barbie is, of course, a shortened version of Barbara.

The doll was supposed to teach girls “that they had choices, that they could be anything. In 1959, it was a radical idea!” Baynard said.

Barbie was an instant success. In the first year, 300,000 dolls were sold, he added.

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