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Barbie turns 58: Little-known facts about the iconic doll

Click to play video 'It’s Barbie’s birthday' It’s Barbie’s birthday
WATCH ABOVE: It’s Barbie’s birthday today, but didn’t you hear it’s rude to ask a lady her age? Global's Matt Grillo finds out everything there is to know about the iconic fashion doll as she enters her 58th year – Mar 9, 2017

It’s Barbie’s birthday on March 9, but didn’t you hear it’s rude to ask a lady her age?

Well, since you asked, the iconic fashion doll is celebrating her 58th birthday.

READ MORE: ‘Barbie Savior’ Instagram account mocks the voluntourism trend

The toy, manufactured by the American toy-company Mattel, made its debut at the American International Toy Fair in New York on this day in 1959.

According to Mattel, it is estimated that over a billion Barbies have been sold worldwide in over 150 countries, with three dolls being sold every second.

READ MORE: Not everyone likes Barbie’s new body

Barbie, or rather Barbara Millicent Roberts, has become a cultural icon over the years.

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In a series of novels published by Random House in the 1960s, readers are introduced to Barbie’s parents, George and Margaret Roberts, from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.

In 1974, a section of Times Square in New York City was renamed Barbie Boulevard for a week.

READ MORE: New Montreal exhibit puts 1,000 haute couture Barbies on display

In 1985, artist Andy Warhol created a painting of Barbie.

This photo provided by Mattell shows new Barbie dolls. Mattell via the AP
In this Feb. 14, 2010 file photo, news anchor Barbie, left, and computer engineer Barbie are arranged for a photo at the New York Toy Fair.
This Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, photo shows Barbie Fashionistas, from Mattel, on display at the annual TTPM Holiday Showcase, in New York. AP Photo/Richard Drew
The largest permanent, haute-couture Barbie exposition in the world has arrived at Les Cours Mont-Royal. Global News
Visitors admire Barbie dolls at Barbie Expo, a permanent exhibit that celebrates the best-selling doll's nearly six decades as a fashionista, Friday, February 12, 2016 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
This photo provided by Mattel shows a group of new Barbie dolls introduced in January 2016. Mattel via AP
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The Wi-Fi connected Hello Barbie uses voice recognition software – similar to voice assistant programs like Apple’s Siri or Google now – interact with children. Handout/Mattel
In this Sept. 29, 2015, photo, Barbie Fashionista Dolls from Mattel are displayed at the TTPM Holiday Showcase in New York. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

In 2016, an exhibit opened in Montreal’s les Cours Mont-Royal mall, featuring more than 1,000 Barbie dolls, including special editions of stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Beyoncé, Kate Middleton and Grace Kelly.

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READ MORE: Hipster Barbie quits Instagram

She has an on-off romantic relationship with her boyfriend, Ken Carson, who first appeared in 1961.

Barbie has owned over 40 pets, including cats, dogs, horses, a panda, a lion cub and a zebra.

READ MORE: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’: new dolls designed for boys of colour

She has owned a wide range of vehicles, including pink Corvette convertibles, trailers and jeeps.

An accomplished woman, Barbie has taken on the role of Miss Astronaut Barbie, Doctor Barbie and NASCAR Barbie.

She also holds a pilot’s license, allowing her to operate commercial airliners and work as a flight attendant.

WATCH BELOW: Barbie’s evolution

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Body image debate

Over the years, the fashion doll has also come into much criticism for her “unrealistic” body shape.

Some argued her measurements, at an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and 36″ bust, don’t accurately portray the average female body.

READ MORE: The new Barbie? Artist aims to make doll with ‘average’ proportions

Mattel responded to the wide-spread criticism in an article in TIME last January, announcing it will start selling the fashion-forward dolls with differing shapes and sizes: tall, curvy and petite.

The company will also be adding some diversity into the mix by selling figurines that feature seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and 24 hairstyles.

READ MORE: A normal-sized Barbie doll with acne and cellulite? ‘It’s natural’

The move was part of a larger strategy to revamp the iconic figure, including the unveiling of 78 new dolls with some based on superheros and real teenagers.

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rachel.lau@globalnews.ca