There's an important reason why Barbie has never got married or had children

Margot Robbie in Barbie The movie, driving with roller skates behind her: how to roller skate
(Image credit: Warner Bros. / Barbie the Movie)

Barbie hits cinemas this weekend, with the Greta Gerwig creation set to be break box office records. 

The star-studded film sees the titular character of Barbie leave Barbieland and set off for the human world - with Ken in tow, with the film taglined: "She's everything. He's just Ken".

Along with the resurfacing of a full-on Barbiecore fashion trend, the new Barbie film has also resurfaced the backstory behind the iconic doll - and it's pretty empowering.

The story behind the Barbie doll

The Barbie doll was created by Ruth Handler, who co-founded Mattel Toy Company with Harold Matson and her husband Eliot Handler back in the 1950s. 

Handler wanted to create a doll that would empower young girls to be anything they wanted -  supposedly after noticing a big difference between the messaging in her son and daughter's toys. She therefore invented Barbie for her daughter, Barbara, who also inspired the name. 

Barbie was intended to empower young girls about the choices that they had life - something that would explain why she had over 200 jobs.

Yes, depending on which Barbie you purchased, she might have been an astronaut, an Olympic skier, a vet, a surgeon, a pop star, or even a presidential candidate - a message to young girls that they could be whatever they wanted to be. 

A line of Barbie dolls throughout the years

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Two things that the doll never was however, was a wife or mother - a fact that has resurfaced amid the new Barbie release.

Yes, Barbie has never got married or had children - something that was apparently a very deliberate choice, with Ruth Handler not wanting young girls to aspire only to marriage and motherhood.

"By the early 1960s, Mattel was flooded with fan mail from girls asking for Barbie to marry her perpetual boyfriend, Ken, and have a baby," read a recent article in Hadassah Magazine by Renée Rosen. "Handler refused, not wanting to reinforce the idea that young girls should aspire only to marriage and motherhood. Despite donning numerous wedding gowns, Barbie has never walked down the Aisle. Instead of a baby, in 1964, Handler gave Barbie a kid sister, "Skipper".

We will continue to update this story.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.