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Why the barbie doll is still as popular as ever

Since her launch in March of 1959, Barbie has successfully - and repeatedly - established herself as the number one fashion doll on the market. Loved by children - and doll collectors alike - Barbie has over the years been the subject of much criticism and controversy (her figure unrealistic, her dolls saying unfavourable sayings, black Barbie having white features, 'tattoo Barbie', etc.). However, despite any instances of negativity, Barbie dolls remain as popular as ever. Why? Well, for many reasons, which include amongst them - great (and persistent) marketing, mass appeal, collect-ability, imaginative play and her ability to adapt herself to ever changing societal expectations.

The Barbie doll was created by Ruth Handler, co-founded of the toy company, Mattel. Ruth created the first Barbie doll after being influenced by a German doll - Bild Lilli - she named the doll after her daughter Barbara. Barbie, or Barbara Millicent Roberts, was modelled to be a strong independent woman, who has a career of her own choosing and does not need to rely on a man for anything. Although, Barbie does have an on/off boyfriend - Ken Carson - who was introduced by Mattel in 1961.

One of the reasons why Barbie was and is, so successful can be credited to the way in which she has been extensively marketed. Barbie was a pioneer for toy television advertising and transmitting images of Barbie's exciting lifestyle straight into the homes of people around the world has led to over two billion Barbie dolls being sold worldwide. Barbie is also not just a 'doll' but she is a collector's item. Girls will want to collect all the different types of Barbie doll, as well as her numerous outfits, pets, vehicles and homes. Limited edition Babies have become sought after collectors' items and turnover high profit at auction.

Barbie also has mass appeal - and so she should considering the amount of moulding and shaping she has undergone through the years to make her appealing! Barbie has come in many guises over the years, including an African American Barbie and an Hispanic Barbie.

When people buy a Barbie doll, they are buying more than just a doll, they are buying Barbie's life and lifestyle, A series of books based on Barbie, Generation Girl, can even tell you of her on/off relationship with Ken and her journey through high school.

The Barbie brand has also continued to embrace new technology and has updated its range accordingly. Barbie has her own DVDs, been in her own films (recently, the very popular Barbie and the Three Musketeers), has her own website and an extensive range of branded goods including bikes, clothing, electronics, stationery, dressing up clothing - you name it, it can be bought with Barbie on it!

Barbie's popularity is also based on the joy little girls get when playing with her. All little girls crave and love what Ruth Handler's daughter Barbara wanted - an adult doll that they can dress up and use to pretend to be and role play about being grown up themselves. Barbie's status as a cultural icon and a 'right of passage' has been cemented over the years thanks to the generations of girls who grew up playing with Barbie and loving her for what she is.