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How Old Is Barbie? It's Complicated

Barbie has been an icon for generations – long before Great Gerwig's "The Barbie Movie" made her a movie star. With her unrealistic physical proportions, hunky beau Ken, and massive Dreamhouse, little girls have always wanted to be just like her. But after witnessing her remain ageless, it's no wonder that some fans have been trying to get to the bottom of the character's actual age.

Mattle's online history of Barbie reveals that she was born Barbara Millicent Roberts in Willows, Wisconsin. The doll's official birthday is listed as March 9, 1959, when she was first introduced wearing a black and white striped swimsuit at the American International Toy Fair in New York City. Based on that release date, the famous doll would have turned 64 in 2023, making her a bona fide baby boomer. But Barbie was "born"  a 19-year-old "fashion model." That would technically make her birth year 1940, with 2023 marking her 83rd year if she actually counted birthdays – or aged.

Barbie creator Ruth Handler admitted that her idea of an adult teenage doll was controversial at first. "The idea of a doll with breasts was not received well," the Mattel entrepreneur said in an interview with Lilith in 1994. "Most of the buyers [for stores] were men, and some didn't think women would want their daughters to have a doll with breasts! And they themselves didn't want their daughters to have such a doll! But when we first shipped the doll it just walked off the shelves."

Barbie's many careers have caused a debate about her age

Be it 1959 or 2023, Barbie is frozen in time at age 19. But her many careers– over 250 as of this writing – have also left fans confused over her age. Barbie has been everything from a doctor to a recurring U.S. presidential candidate starting with the election in 1992.

In the premiere episode of the animated web series "Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse," fans had a chance to calculate Barbie's age when she dishes that she is getting ready to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the first time she held hands with her boyfriend Ken. Even if they held hands as kids, that would make her in her 40s!

In another episode, titled "Goofs, Gifts, Galore,"  characters Nikki and Teresa try to figure out Barbie's age. "I know she was a doctor, and you gotta go to school for at least 11 years for that," says Nikki, while Teresa notes that Barbie has to be at least 35 years old since she once ran for president. Viewers get faked out when, just as Barbie begins to reveal her true age to Ken by saying, "Well today, I am officially....."  a loud vacuum cleaner drowns the sound out.

The only thing that's for certain is Barbie gets better with age. While the OG doll retailed for just $3 back in 1959, an original boxed Barbie doll from that era can now fetch more than $4,000 on auction sites such as eBay today. Grandma Barbie for the win!