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Top 10 Most Unique & Progressive Barbies

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jessica Walsh
Growing up, every girl wanted one (or 100), but not just because she was pretty. For this list, we’ll only be looking the official dolls on the Barbie line and not fanmade versions or other dolls inspired by her. We’ll also be looking at how forward thinking the dolls were at the time they were produced, though we won’t be counting the original Barbie doll even if she was quite revolutionary at her time. Our list includes Ibtihaj Muhammed, Ballerina Cara Barbie, Game Developer Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Career Girl Barbie, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Most Unique/Forward Thinking Barbies.
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Top 10 Most Unique/Forward Thinking Barbies


Growing up, every girl wanted one (or 100), but not just because she was pretty. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 unique and forward thinking Barbies.

For this list, we’ll only be looking the official dolls on the Barbie line and not fanmade versions or other dolls inspired by her. We’ll also be looking at how forward thinking the dolls were at the time they were produced, though we won’t be counting the original Barbie doll even if she was quite revolutionary at her time.

#10: Christie (1968)


Over the years Barbie has had several friends and family members, each with their own look and backstory. In the sixties we were introduced to Christie, Barbie’s first African American friend and doll. While seeing Barbie’s black counterpart in almost every fashion change is common now, Christie was quite notable for her time, being one of the few black dolls on the market. Two years later, she was even given a boyfriend by the name of Brad, the first dark skinned male doll in the line.

#9: Ibtihaj Muhammed (2017)


This doll is based on Olympic fencer Ibitihaj Muhammed and sports not just her recognizable style, but also a face sculpted to match her features. She is part of the line ‘sheroes’. These Barbies, which also include Gabby Douglas and Ava Duvernay, serve to highlight “women who inspire girls by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere.” This doll does exactly that as Ibitihaj became the first American to compete in the Olympics while wearing a hijab in 2016 and hopefully not the last. A one-of-a-kind Ibtihaj Barbie was showcased in 2017 at Glamour Women of the Year Summit in the lead-up to a wide release in 2018.

#8: ‘Love Wins’ Barbie by Aimee Song (2017)


In 2017, amid the ongoing movement for marriage rights, the instagram account, barbiestyle, made a post seeming that seemingly threw their hat - or in this case their dolls - in for support. The dolls shown in the series of photos are Barbie herself and a new doll based on noted fashion blogger Aimee Song. The Love Wins t-shirt that both dolls are wearing was originally designed and sold by Aimee Song to raise funds for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit concentrating on preventing suicide among queer youth. While it’s not clear when or if this doll will go on sale to the public, the positive message behind the photos was enough to create quite a frenzy.

#7: Ballerina Cara Barbie (1976)


In the world of ballet there is a large focus on body type and color, so much so that it’s taken until 2015 for Misty Copeland to be named the first African American principal dancer with the American ballet Theatre. While she has her own Barbie as part of the aforementioned sheroes line, she isn’t the first black ballerina Barbie doll. In the ‘70s, Mattel released Cara as part of the Ballerina Barbie set. With POC women still fighting for their place in the spotlight, this doll was certainly ahead of her time.

#6: Game Developer Barbie (2016)


Barbie has tried her hand at a wide variety of jobs and the world of computers and IT is no exception. While the Computer Engineering Barbie came out in 2010 to less than stellar reviews - thanks to her needing Brian and Steven’s help - Game Developer Barbie was a much needed improvement. This time, Mattel rightly included accessories that actually have a place in the field and even made her a geek, featuring various little action figures sitting on her desk in the background of her packaging. Even more inspiring was the fact that there was no sign of Ken or any other male friend - this Barbie can do it all on her own.

#5: Astronaut Barbie (1965)


In 1957 the space race was on, with several countries working to be the first to put a man on the moon. While America made history when they finally made it in 1969 with Apollo 11’s famous landing, Mattel was actually 4 years ahead of them. Barbie was released with her own moon walking shoes and suit in 1965. With her plastic helmet and grey suit complete with metal zipper and buckles, she might not have been made the safest space walk, but she certainly looked stylish as she took on the future.

#4: Career Girl Barbie (1963)


Released during the second wave of the feminist movement in the US, this Barbie showed that a woman could also find her place in the workplace, whether the world was ready for it or not. Echoing the voices of many feminists of the day, Career Girl Barbie was made to inspire girls to dream of jobs outside of the home. She came in a fashionable suit jacket and hat and was ready to take on the world from her desk. Other versions have come out with the same theme, but this one stands out as one of the first.

#3: Presidential Candidate Barbie (1992-)


Several countries around the world have had female leaders, but the US is still struggling to catch up in that regard. Barbie has been attempting to run almost every election year since 1992. While not initially successful in her campaign, it might have been because the early versions of this doll came dressed in evening wear with the more presidential outfit to the side. However, in recent years, Barbie has reshaped her image and even enlisted a female running mate, never giving up on that race for the White House.

#2: Barbie Fashionistas (2016-)


This one is easily one of the most talked about Barbie lines. In 2016, Mattel gave Barbie a complete makeover. Since then, a variety of dolls have been released under the Fashionistas brand, coming in curvy, petite, tall and original, all with different colored hair and different face sculpts - all in an attempt to reflect a larger portion of the diversity in the world. Ken has even joined in with new designs and fashions of his own and - wait, is that a man bun? Is Ken actually sporting a man bun? Truly a doll of the times.

#1: Dolls of the World (1980)


Barbie’s blonde hair and thin design are iconic. Unfortunately, in making her a celebrity, the toy line failed to represent women of all shapes, sizes and colors. Starting in the early ‘80s, Mattel took strides to correct that with a line of dolls made to showcase other countries and cultures around the world, giving the brand a more global appeal. While some of these dolls sparked controversy, due to being based more on the stereotypes than the actual people of the area, the move was the well overdue dash of variety the dolls sneeded - missteps aside. This collection is also notable as the first to provide different cultural face sculpts.
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