Ruth Handler and her husband Elliot, founded the toy company Mattel, Inc in 1945. Fourteen years later, Ruth would introduce Barbie Millicent Roberts, better known as “Barbie” to the world. Inspired by watching her daughter play with make-believe paper dolls of adult women, Handler realized there was an important niche in the market for a toy that allowed little girls to imagine the future. Barbie’s appearance was modeled after a doll named the Bild Lilli, which had been inspired by a German comic-strip character. Originally marketed as a racy gag gift that men could buy in tobacco shops, the Lilli doll later became extremely popular with children. Mattel bought the rights to Lilli, and Handler created her own version. With the release of the new 2016 Barbie Fashionistas, take a look at Barbie's cultural revolution through the years.

The first Barbie doll goes on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City.

The original 1959 Teenage Fashion Model Barbie.
The original 1959 Teenage Fashion Model Barbie. (Credit: Mattel)

Barbie’s official birthday is March 9, 1959—the day she was officially introduced to the world. Handler always saw Barbie as a reflection of the times, with the first doll mimicking the glamour of 1950s stars such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. In its first year, 300,000 Barbie dolls were sold. The first Barbie doll sold for $3.00, but a mint condition #1 doll can fetch more than $25,000 today.

Barbie’s Impressive Resume

1965 Astronaut Barbie.
Astronaut Barbie. (Credit: Mattel)

Over the span of her career, Barbie has had over 150 careers. She broke the plastic ceiling when she went to the moon in 1965, four years before Neil Armstrong. Since then, she has been everything from a doctor to a paleontologist to a rock star to a computer engineer.

The year of Ken

Barbie and Ken in the 1960s. (Credit: Mattel)
Barbie and Ken in the 1960s. (Credit: Mattel)

Barbie’s on-again, off-again longtime boyfriend, Ken Carson, was introduced two years after Barbie in 1961. Ken was named after Ruth Handler’s son.

Barbie’s friends & family

Barbie's best friend Midge, 1963. (Credit: Mattel)
Barbie’s best friend Midge, 1963. (Credit: Mattel)

To counteract criticisms that Barbie was solely a sex symbol, in 1963 Barbie’s best friend Midge Hadley was introduced. A year later, Barbie’s first little sister was announced, Skipper Roberts.

First celebrity Barbie

The first celebrity Barbie, Twiggy the supermodel. (Credit: Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)
The first celebrity Barbie, Twiggy the supermodel. (Credit: Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)

In 1967, Supermodel Twiggy was the first celebrity to join the Barbie family. Cher, Audrey Hepburn, Diana Ross and JK Rowling – to name a few – would later join the ranks of celebrities made into Barbies.

African-American and Latina Barbie introduced

African-American Barbie, 1980. (Credit: Mattel)
African-American Barbie, 1980. (Credit: Mattel)

While there had been other African-American dolls in the Barbie collection before—including Barbie’s friend Christie, first introduced in 1968— an official African-American Barbie wasn’t created until 1980, alongside a Latina Barbie. That same year saw the first of more than 40 different international Barbies released to date.

Andy Warhol paints Barbie

Artist Andy Warhol displaying his portrait of a Barbie doll.  (Credit: DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Artist Andy Warhol displaying his portrait of a Barbie doll. (Credit: DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Given Andy Warhol’s longtime fascination with iconic stars such as Jackie Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, it should come as little surprise that the pop artists would get around to depicting Barbie. His inspiration came from his longtime friendship with a jewelry designer, an avid Barbie collector with tens of thousands of dolls. When Warhol asked to paint the designer’s portrait, his friend replied, “Do a portrait of Barbie because Barbie, c’est moi.” Nearly 20 years later, Mattel returned the favor, issuing an Andy Warhol-themed Barbie collectible.

Bob Mackie designs his first Barbie

The Bob Mackie Gold Barbie, 1990. (Credit: Mattel)
The Bob Mackie Gold Barbie, 1990. (Credit: Mattel)

To this day, the Bob Mackie Barbie dolls are some of the most sought after collectibles. Featuring his trademark style, Mackie’s first Barbie was The Bob Mackie Gold Barbie, which featured 5,000 hand-sewn golden sequin accents. Mackie helped start the collectible Barbie craze.

Barbie for President

Barbie runs for president in 1992. (Credit: Mattel)
Barbie runs for president in 1992. (Credit: Mattel)

Barbie began her run for president in 1992, and has launched six consecutive campaigns. We are still waiting to see if she throws her hat into the ring for the 2016 election.

Barbie and Ken break up?!

Ken and Barbie on a first date for a Weekend Calendar cover shoot illustrating first dates. (Credit: Iris Schneider/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)
Ken and Barbie on a first date for a Weekend Calendar cover shoot illustrating first dates. (Credit: Iris Schneider/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

In the midst of a rash of high-profile celebrity breakups, in 2004 Barbie and Ken made news of their own when they decided they were better off as friends. They didn’t have to worry about splitting up their things though; the Dream House was always Barbie’s. After seven years apart, Barbie and Ken reunited.

Barbie walks the runway

The Dream Closet event during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.  (Credit: Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
The Dream Closet event during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. (Credit: Gary Gershoff/WireImage)

To celebrate her 50th anniversary, Barbie had her own runway show in the New York Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, featuring original creations by 50 notable designers.

Drag Queen Barbie

The Blonds Blond Diamond Barbie. (Credit: Mattel)
The Blonds Blond Diamond Barbie. (Credit: Mattel)

The avant garde design duo, Phillippe and David Blond, known for glitz and glam created The Blonds Blond Diamond Barbie. Dressed to the nines in sparkles, gems and fur some see this fabulous doll as the first “drag queen” Barbie.

Ella, the first “Chemo Barbie”

Barbie's friend Ella, known as "Chemo Barbie." (Credit: Ella Chemotherapy Barbie/https://www.facebook.com/EllaChemotherapyBarbie)
Barbie’s friend Ella, known as “Chemo Barbie.” (Credit: Ella Chemotherapy Barbie/https://www.facebook.com/EllaChemotherapyBarbie)

Mattel produced a bald friend of Barbie named Ella. Created to help young girls with cancer, only a limited number were made and distributed directly to hospitals. Responding to a petition from a cancer patient’s mother, in 2014 Mattel agreed to produce more Ella Barbie dolls.

Cover of Sports Illustrated

Barbie on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. (Credit: Mattel)
Barbie on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. (Credit: Mattel)

Clad in a black and white suit reminiscent of her first outfit from 1959, Barbie made the cover of the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition.

Barbie gets a whole new look!

The newly-released 2016 Barbie Fashionistas. (Credit: Mattel)
The newly-released 2016 Barbie Fashionistas. (Credit: Mattel)

The newly-released 2016 Barbie Fashionistas come in four body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles, addressing longtime criticism that the dolls did not accurately reflect the modern woman.