The evolution of Barbie

A new exhibition in Paris pays tribute to the iconic doll's many incarnations and cultural influence

Barbie through the years.

Ruth Handler, co-founder of the Mattel toy manufacturing company, came up with the idea for Barbie after noticing her daughter playing with fashion paper dolls. She realized girls craved a toy that could embody their fantasies of becoming ambitious young women. Though Handler gave Barbie a backstory (she was born in Wisconsin as Barbara Millicent Roberts), she refrained from giving her an exact age because she wanted the doll to appeal to as many girls as possible.

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Jackie Friedman

Jackie Friedman is the assistant photo editor at She is a graduate of the photojournalism program at Kent State University and now lives in New York.