Pop Culture

Barbies Are Back: Everyone's Favorite Doll Is Enjoying the Spotlight Once Again

As anyone who uses products made from the reaction injection molding process will tell you: life in plastic -- it's fantastic. Of course, there's one icon who knows that all too well. And if you thought that Barbara Millicent Roberts (otherwise known as Barbie) wasn't going to be relevant in 2020, you'd be wrong.

When Barbie made her debut in 1959, she quickly soared to popularity. What with her dream house, her many occupations, her stunning outfits, and even her friends and pets, Barbie emulated the American ideal. After all, most U.S. households have at least one pet at home -- but not everyone can have a swimming pool, a pink Jeep, and an endless supply of tiny shoes. But by 2014, sales of the doll had started to dwindle. Still, the nostalgia factor is strong with this toy, as is evidenced by the excitement surrounding recent launches and collaborations involving her signature cotton candy touch.

For instance, there's currently a Barbie Truck Totally Throwback Tour making its way across the country, with events booked in Texas, Florida, California, and a handful of major cities throughout 2020. During tour stops, attendees can purchase "retro-inspired merchandise" like upcycled jean jackets, t-shirts, cosmetic pouches, fanny packs, embroidered patches, jewelry, and more, all priced between $12 and $75. The events are part of a three-year campaign to honor Barbie's 60th anniversary and are likely part of an effort by Mattel to redefine the brand for modern Americans.

That said, it seems as if the love for Barbie is still going strong. Even though the brand has received its fair share of backlash pertaining to outdated gender roles and body inclusivity, it's clear that the company has listened and has been willing to make changes to keep up with the times. They've added improved career options to the Barbie repertoire, for one thing. Although some are still relatively cringeworthy, like pet groomer, they've added options like robotics engineer, astrophysicist, polar marine biologist, and judge in recent years. The brand also recently unveiled a new line of diverse dolls, including a doll with vitiligo, a doll with a prosthetic leg, and dolls with a greater range of skin tones and hairstyles.

In addition, the brand is clearly making an effort to connect with younger consumers. Barbie has released recent clothing collaborations with Torrid, Unique Vintage, Missguided, and Forever 21. The Barbie x Forever 21 line extends to both standard and plus sizes, with items in the kids' section, as well.

Certainly, the brand looks quite a bit different than it did when Barbie first arrived on the scene. But it's changed for the better in many ways -- and it still captures the optimistic essence that so many kids (and adults) always loved. Like it or not, this Barbie girl is here to stay.