Barbie’s careers through the ages

To celebrate Barbie's big 60th birthday, we're looking back at the history of the iconic fashion doll

Barbie’s careers through the ages

Hands up who played with Barbie dolls when they were younger? She's been pretty much shaping playtime all around the world since 1959, when Ruth Handler created a doll named after her own daughter, Barbara. Of course, she named the Ken doll (which arrived two years later) after her son.

Handler was the co-founder of toy giant Mattel Inc., and Barbie became the company's biggest seller, proving particularly lucrative because of all of the bits and bobs she tends to come with – clothes, shoes, cars, and even 'Dreamhouses'.

Her figure may have changed (in recent years Mattel has introduced 'Tall', 'Curvy' and 'Petite' dolls), but her work ethic certainly hasn't. In the last 60 years Barbie has tried her hand at being everything from a firefighter to a scientist and a TV chef. 

To mark her big birthday, lets take a gander at Barbie's different careers through the decades...


In the Swinging Sixties, Barbie's job roles ranged from a fashion designer to a nurse, an 'executive', a college graduate and an astronaut. We're loving the astronaut look – even back in those days, Barbie was crushing it.


Years before ER arrived on our screens, Barbie was donning the scrubs and saving lives. Barbie also discovered fake tan in the 70s, and just in time too – for during this decade she was crowned Miss America, while later conquering the world of gymnastics and earning herself an Olympic gold medal. Phew.


Let your mind wander to the 1980s, when Working Girl-style power suits, big hair and lycra were en vogue, and Madonna was topping the charts. Barbie really hit her stride in this decade – she joined a band and toured the world, found Jane-Fonda-level success as a gym instructor, bossed it as both a CEO and an army officer, and roamed the world as a pilot. Is there anything that gal can't do?! 


She's already conquered the skies and the beauty pageant landscape, but what about the famously male-dominated realm that is politics? In the 90s, Barbie stepped things up a gear and ran for president. She also fought crime as a police officer, risked her life as a firefighter and dusted fossils as a paleontologist, à la Ross from Friends.


In 2005 Barbie became an American Idol winner, aquiring true superstar status. But in 2008 she was rustling up Italian dishes in a state-of-the-art kitchen as a TV chef – a long way from the adventurous astronaut of 1965. Since then, she's tried her hand as a news anchor, a teacher, a scientist and a farmer. Say whatever you want about Barbie, but she did not stop working. We wonder what her CV will lool like in 2020...

You can shop the whole Barbie range - including a spectacular 3-storey townhouse - online or in a store near you.