Whatever Happened to '90s Barbie and Her Endless Hair?
Love her or hate her, Barbie will always be an interesting — if not entirely accurate — sign of the times. When Barbie debuted in 1959, her designers gave her the sultry Hollywood side-eye of Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor. In the '70s, her hair was long and loose, and she went to Malibu and celebrated Flower Power along with everyone else. In the '80s, she got just as much neon and shoulder pad action as the next aerobic-obsessed girl.
But we're not here to reminisce about Barbie's earliest days. We're here to talk about '90s Barbie, because '90s Barbie was everything. She was sporty, she was career-minded, she was really into bright colors, but first and foremost, '90s Barbie was all about the hair. There was no such thing as a ridiculous 'do in the world of '90s Barbie, except for, perhaps, a pixie cut, because this lady wasn't afraid of bangs, crimping, side ponytails, or volume — gallons and gallons of volume.
While Barbie may have been born into a world of sensuous Hollywood glamour, she was now the It Girl of a time when the ultra-ultra-supermodel was queen. In the real world, the "fab five" was going strong (models Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, and Christy Turlington), and Barbie kept up with their image of extremely glamorous, fast-paced femininity. With a little more plastic, of course.
Barbie's '90s makeup was significantly different than it is today. Her eyes looked far more one-dimensional, and they were drawn on a bit rounder than her slightly more almond-shaped, slightly more sensual look of today. In fact, her facial features in general were less defined than they are now. Is someone slowly becoming more real? (Cue horror movie soundtrack.)
Her body was also different — more Sports Illustrated-esque, for lack of a better term. In the '90s, her torso was larger but less realistic (unless a triangle-shaped ribcage is…normal?). Barbie clearly discovered squats in the 2000s, too.
It's almost impossible to list all the versions and sub-versions and different-haired versions of Barbie that were produced during this time, but suffice it to say that they were all about the hair: Glitter Hair Barbie, Mermaid Barbie, Shampoo Magic Barbie. In fact, the most popular Barbie of the '90s — and indeed, of all time — was 1992's Totally Hair Barbie, who came with ten and a half inches of silken blonde hair that could be styled into, like, ten million side ponytails.
Barbie wore what we wore during the '90s, except she was about a zillion times more coordinated. If it matched, Barbie wore it. If it matched her earrings and high heels and hat and purse, Barbie wore it even better. It wasn't unheard of to catch '90s Barbie in a colorful visor and matching oversized earrings, psychedelic mini-dresses, or the ubiquitous acid-washed denim. She loved bright colors and pattern mixing, and looking back on it, she was kind of of stuck in the '80s.
Career-wise, Barbie's life had never been better. She switched careers several times a year, going from a rap musician to a business executive, Radio City Music Hall Rockette, baseball player, U.S. Air Force Thunderbird Squadron Leader, Paleontologist, and Formula One Driver, all the way up to a presidential candidate.
Yes, life in the '90s was looking up for Barbie, and Barbie had never looked better. And brighter. And bigger-haired.