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20 things you didn’t know about Barbie

It's fair to say that Barbie is everyone's newest obsession, so we've done some digging and found 20 things you didn't know about the doll and the new movie.

20 things you didn't know about Barbie: Margot Robbie as Barbie

Here are 20 things you didn’t know about Barbie. She’s here! The new Queen of Cinema. All this time, we were thinking Tom Cruise was saving the movies, when in fact, it may have just been the women that all little girls had in their toy chests at one time or another.


Barbie isn’t just one of the greatest new movies of 2023 but also, in our opinion, one of the best feel-good movies ever made. As made obvious in our Barbie review, we also think it’s simply one of the best movies we’ve seen in a while (sorry, Oppenheimer), and it has definitely reignited a love of the movies for many.

And while the Barbie cast does a great job of letting us in on some Barbie intel and acknowledging some in-world meta-Barbie lore, we wanted more. And we know you do, too, so that’s why we went to work on bringing you some information on the doll and the movie that you’ve probably missed.

1. Barbie and Ken: Keep it in the family

It’s no surprise to most Barbie fans (and anyone who’s already seen the movie) to hear that Barbie is named after Ruth Handler’s daughter. Handler, the inventor of the original Barbie doll, even confesses as much to Margot Robbie’s Barbie that her namesake is her own child. But did you know that Ken’s origin is equally close to home? While Handler’s daughter Barbara would become well known for being the inspiration behind Barbie’s name, her son Kenneth was also influential, providing the name for everyone’s future favorite blonde buddy.

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2. Barbie’s first job was as a fashion model

According to Mattel, Barbie has had over 200 careers in her lifetime. She’s been a politician, conquered the medical industry (a handful of times), and has even been a sports personality. But her first job was something a little more related to the overall Barbie canon: a fashion model. That’s right, in the year of her invention, 1959, Barbie was working as a teenage fashion model. We can only guess it was boredom that led her to ditch this for jobs in the STEM field instead.

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3. The real Barbie isn’t actually a fan of… well, Barbie

Going back to the original Barbie, (AKA: Barbara Handler Segal), it became clear over time that the doll’s human inspiration never really cared much for the associations that would come to dominate her life. In later years, she would actively deny that she had anything in common with the world-famous Barbie.

“It sounds silly, I know,” Barbara Handler admitted [via The Los Angeles Times]. “But I am really not very well acquainted with Barbie dolls at all.”

4. Blondes have more fun, according to Barbie

Most people automatically think of Barbie as a classic blonde (as evidenced by the casting of Margot Robbie for the role of ‘Stereotypical Barbie’). But actually, when Barbie first came out in 1959, she was available in two types: blonde and brunette. Great news for brunettes! Or at least it was up until it was realized that Barbie was selling way more units as a blonde.

From that point on, Barbie would be automatically known as a blonde, with brunette versions only becoming available in certain renditions of the character, and red-haired Barbies only becoming available in the early ‘60s.

20 things you didn't know about Barbie: Ryan Gosling as Ken in the Barbie movie

5. Ken is Barbie’s junior

Although Barbie and Ken were a couple in the Barbie canon, since Ken was actually released two years after Barbie, that would make him two years her junior. If we’re looking at the pipeline to the Barbie movie, this kind of makes sense. After all, the Ken from the movie is vastly more immature and insecure than Barbie, so perhaps we can just pin that down to age differences.

6. Thank you, Madam President

Barbie’s career has extended into politics several times over. In fact, over the course of her lifetime, Barbie has run for president no less than six times. In the doll world, this just means that she had six different models of ‘President Barbie’.

This would eventually become full circle in the Barbie movie, wherein President Barbie is a major character played by Issa Rae. In fact, President Barbie is such an integral part of Barbie history, that it appeared in an SNL sketch far before the Barbie movie was even released.

7. Barbie won the Space Race

Well, technically not. But Barbie would take on the role of moonwalker with the ‘Astronaut Barbie’ model, which came out in 1965. However, man wouldn’t walk on the moon until July 21, 1969, meaning that Barbie was actually wandering around in Space far before the great Space Race was ever completed. Sorry, boys.

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8. ‘I’m Just Ken’ wasn’t intended to be sung by Gosling

Although one of the greatest musical moments in the Barbie movie sees Ryan Gosling belting out an ’80s-style power ballad to lead into the War of Kens, it wasn’t supposed to be that way. In fact, when music producer Mark Ronson created the song, he was pretty sure it wasn’t even going to make it past Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach.

But they loved it, and more importantly, so did Ryan Gosling. In fact, Gosling loved the song so much that he requested he be the one to sing it. The rest, as they say, is history.

9. The Barbie movie aesthetic is from a specific Barbie era

The Barbie movie poster and marketing might feel incredibly familiar now that we’ve seen it plastered all over the place. But the actual design of the logo used for the movie comes from a long way back in time. In fact, the specific Barbie font and logo were taken from the 1975-1991 era of the doll. Over the years, the design has been updated and changed regularly, but we’re glad we ended up with the version we got.

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10. “Hey, we’re playin’ with dolls, here!”

There are plenty of cinematic references in the Barbie movie. Greta Gerwig isn’t one to shy away from noting her influences, either. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the classic movies, Midnight Cowboy, was among those which inspired some of the ‘real world’ scenes in the new movie.

Specifically, the sequence in which Barbie and Ken are walking around Los Angeles wearing cowboy garb is heavily taken from scenes of Jon Voight walking around in the same manner in the 1969 movie.

11. Don’t put a ring on it

If you look closely, there are many details within the Barbie movie that are logically correct for the doll counterparts. For example, the fact that Barbie can walk on the (fake) water in her pool, and the scene in which she gets lifted from her house and placed into her car. But one tiny detail may go unnoticed by viewers simply because it’s so small.

Barbie’s fashion is ever-changing throughout the comedy movie, but one thing you won’t catch her wearing is a ring. This is because Barbie dolls don’t really have fingers. Instead, they have flesh-colored mounts for hands with finger markings, so it wouldn’t be anatomically correct for Barbie to wear any rings. Nice attention to detail, there!

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12. Barbieland isn’t Elemental

Although the summer of new movies included the Pixar animation Elemental, the Barbie movie takes an opposite approach to Earth’s elements. In fact, as confirmed by Robbie herself in the Architectural Digest tour of the Dreamhouse, there are no elements in Barbieland. “There is no water in Barbieland,” she explained. “There’s no water, or fire, there are no elements.”

13. Australian Barbie

It may have been fate that Barbie would eventually be depicted in live-action by noted Aussie, Robbie, because there is, in fact, an Australian Barbie. She was released in 1993 as part of the ‘Dolls of the World’ collection and dons a ranch outfit. She also wears a wide-brimmed hat to protect her from the outback sun. Although she was a special edition, you can still find old versions of her on eBay, so you may wish to do so before the price rockets up, considering her real-life Australian counterpart.

20 things you didn't know about Barbie: Will Ferrell in the Barbie movie

14. Will Ferrell is the God of the toy movie universe

Will Ferrell stars in the Barbie movie as the hilariously dim-witted CEO of Mattel. He’s not dubbed with a name, so we don’t think he’s based on the real person, but he’s definitely a leading force throughout the movie since he’s determined to put Barbie back in her box.

However, this isn’t the first time Ferrell has played a dominating business tyrant in toy adaptations. For those who don’t remember, he also starred in 2014’s The Lego Movie, where he played Lord Business, the antagonist of the kids movie. At this rate, we’ll be looking out for him in Mattel’s upcoming Barney the Dinosaur movie as some form of Man in Suit.

15. Warner Bros. Easter egg

Speaking of Mattel, a large sequence takes place in the Mattel headquarters, in the CEO’s pink heart-shaped office. Outside the window, the cityscape of Los Angeles is painted to give an otherworldly feel, but there’s also a sneaky Easter egg for the production company of the movie.

Just behind Will Ferrell’s character is a building that says ‘Warner Bros. Discovery’, with the ‘WB’ logo up front and proudly displayed. This is a movie about toys, after all, so some subliminal consumerist messages should always have been expected.

20 things you didn't know about Barbie: Margot Robbie as Barbie

16. Barbie’s value has increased dramatically

Back on March 9, 1959, Barbie was first revealed at the New York Toy Fair. When she was eventually sold, she was put on the market for the cheap price of $3. Based on the rate of inflation, that same Barbie would be worth $30.82 today.

That said, the budget for the Barbie movie was $145 million, meaning that girl has soared in value! And even more impressively, Barbie has made $155 million over her opening weekend, standing as the most profitable opening weekend of 2023 so far. She knows her worth.

17. The creation of Adam

It can’t be denied that the Barbie movie is an emotional ride. Some of the most tear-jerking moments come from the interactions between Barbie and her on-screen creator, Ruth.

But one of the most touching moments (literally) comes when Barbie encounters Ruth in the hidden rooms of Mattel, where she sits at her kitchen table with her designs. As Ruth offers Barbie tea, she passes her the cup, and their fingers touch in a manner similar to that of ‘The Creation of Adam,’ in which God gives life to the first man.

It’s a small, easily missed detail, but it’s one of Robbie’s favorites, according to the woman herself.

20 things you didn't know about Barbie: Margot Robbie as Barbie

18. Looking forward

There are a few things that might strike as a little odd about the first design of the Barbie doll (which is shown in the opening scene of the Barbie movie). For starters, her eyes aren’t quite looking ahead. She’s actually looking off to the side in an alluring way, most likely because she was partly inspired by an X-rated German doll.

But one of the last changes that creator Ruth Handler would instigate before she was ejected from her own company for falsifying financial reports was to change Barbie’s eyes. So if you’re much happier that Barbie’s actually looking at you, you’ve got Ruth to thank for that.

19. What are the odds?

One of the criticisms that Robbie’s Barbie receives in the movie is that Barbie is to blame for women’s body issues and the pressure of self-image. While it’s not exactly a fair jab to throw at Barbie herself, it is a fair point.

In fact, Academics from the University of South Australia once investigated the possibility of Barbie existing in human form and found that, based on her measurements and body formation, the odds of a woman ever being able to have the same physical form as Barbie would be one in 100,000.

Meanwhile, the odds of a man ever being able to look exactly like Ken are a little more realistic at one in 50.

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20. The Barbie and Ken break-up

Although it’s never specifically mentioned what type of Ken Simu Lui plays in the Barbie movie, we think we have an inkling of who he’s inspired by. Barbie and Ken have always been ‘dating’ in the Barbie lore, although the two broke up in the year 2004. (Why Mattel felt the need to have two children’s dolls break up remains a mystery to us.)

But Barbie would quickly find a rebound in the form of hunky surfer boy Blaine. Barbie and Blaine would be an item for two years before Barbie would eventually go back to Ken. But this has left us thinking that Simu Lui might be playing a warped version of Blaine, especially since he’s seen with a surfboard in the first scene of the movie and teases Ken about his lack of surfing skills.

If this still isn’t enough for you, why not take a look at some of our Barbie movie guides? We’ve got them on the Barbie soundtrack, the Barbie Proustian joke explained, and Skipper. You can also take a look at the Barbie ending explained, see if there’s a Barbie 2 release date in the works, and read our feature on why Ken isn’t the movie’s villain — the patriarchy is!