Thursday, March 9, 2017

Barbie Names

Hello, readers!

On March 9th, 1959, Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York, and an icon was born. This classic doll has become a constant object in the lives of little girls all over the world - from her fashion sense to her career forays, Barbie has become a medium for imaginative play.

As a Barbie girl growing up - I had ninety dolls at one point - playing Barbies was one of my first experiences experimenting with names. I made extensive Barbie families of my own, and I memorized Barbie's friends and family names. Let's look at some of these names surrounding the classic toy!

I've included relevant full names and surnames in parentheses. Since many of these have a rather mid-century style, I've included international- and nickname-variants. 

Barbie (Barbara Millicent Roberts)
Named for founder Ruth Handler's daughter Barbara, Barbie has now become almost-unusable thanks to the eponymous icon. The name ranked on the popularity charts throughout the 1960's, but dropped off once the doll became a household name. More uncommon forms of Barbara include Babette, Basia, and Varenka

Ken (Carson)
Barbie's longtime boyfriend Ken has been available for purchase since 1961, and available to other single dolls since 2004, when he and Barbie broke up. Ken reached its height in the early 1960's, along with top-twenty contender Kenneth, but it has a dated feel now as well. Alternatives include Kent or Kendall, if you like the sound of the name!

Midge (Midge Hadley Sherwood)
The first best friend for Barbie debuted in 1963, but made waves in 2002 - her character was married to male doll Alan, and Midge was sold with a removable pregnant stomach and baby inside. Though the "controversy" around this died down, Midge might have more problems these days as a name. Surname Hadley, however, is becoming a new attractive favorite.

The first "black Barbie" was Christie, Barbie's best friend since 1968. It seems especially meaningful now that she debuted that year, and that her character is one of the longest-running in the franchise. While Christie and its many forms are no longer as popular, rarer variants include Ina and Kiki

Teresa (Rivera)
Another best friend was introduced in 1988 - Teresa, a Latina/Italian doll (her heritage is ambiguous). Teresa is still included in today's Barbie World, but her name has been on the decline. Teresa has some beautiful religious connotations in addition to its pretty form - to honor a familial Teresa, try Tessa, Terra, or Therese

Nikki (Nicole O'Neil)
For over ten years now Nikki has been a part of Barbie's long line of best friends, and her presence is especially notable in web and television series. Nikki continues to be a cute nickname choice, but more unusual long forms like Nikita and Nicolina offer more flair. 

Summer (Gordon)
Blaine's little sister (see below) and friend to Barbie, Summer is known for her athleticism. The name has been relatively common since the 1970's, with fans appreciating its positive and warm feeling. There are dozens of real and fictional Summer namesakes, too!

A mixed-race Asian-American doll, Raquelle is fairly new to the franchise - she debuted in 2007. With Rachel a consistent classic, Raquelle and Raquel could gain name fans looking for a more unique vibe. Raquel is popular especially in Spanish-speaking countries. 

Skipper (Roberts)
Barbie's little sister appeared in 1964; smaller and "younger" than Barbie, she was meant to look more like a teenager. The name Skipper was recorded sporadically for boys throughout the twentieth century - while it does fit in with surname and occupational name trends, it's still very much attached to the doll (or Gilligan's Island). 

Stacie (Anastasia Tutti Roberts)
Another sister for Barbie, Stacie first appeared as "Tutti" in the 1960's and was reinvented in 1990. While the long list of Stacie names and spellings have subsided, long form Anastasia is still elegant and feminine. Could it be the next Victoria?

Todd (Roberts)
Barbie's little brother hasn't been too prevalent in Mattel's franchise, but he's worth noting. Todd was originally the twin brother of Tutti (or Stacie, depending on the packaging), and remains a rare doll today. The name Todd peaked in the early 1970's, but could make a comeback today with its concise sound and friendly vibe. 

Kelly (Roberts)
Toddler-sized Kelly - known as Shelly in Europe - was a huge hit in the late 1990's and early 2000's, before the doll was discontinued. Another of Barbie's many sisters, Kelly's name is slightly more modern, but already on the decline. Similar energetic Irish names include Riley and Kennedy

Blaine (Gordon)
Australian Blaine appeared on Barbie's arm after her breakup with Ken. Though their romance was a bit shorter - two years versus forty-three - Blaine had an effect on Barbie fans worldwide. Today, Blaine dolls are no longer being produced, but the name Blaine continues to shine. It's similar enough to Blake or Lane, but has a personality all its own. 

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. This brings back memories :) Did Barbie have a tiny sister called Shelly, too?