By Pema Bakshi

All The Real-Life Barbie Dolls Inspiring Greta Gerwig’s Barbieland Citizens

These Barbies have been around for decades
‘Barbie’ movie characters via Warner Bros.

Unless you’ve been deep in a digital detox as of late, you’ve likely been swept up by the Barbiemania taking over the world. With Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster film release finally upon us, the Mattel cinematic universe leaves us with plenty of questions about real-life inspirations.

In Barbieland, Gerwig introduces us to a gaggle of powerful Barbies. Featuring a host of impeccable talent, Barbie taps the likes of Issa RaeEmma Mackey, Hari Nef, Dua Lipa and more to portray some of the various iterations of the doll.

From President Barbie to Celebrated Author Barbie, the women of the film playfully take on their roles as empowered figures. The Kens, however, are just Kens.

But, of course, each of these characters is inspired by actual Barbies that have been made since the original doll was created in 1959. Ahead, we break down the real-life toys that you’ll spot in the Barbie movie.

Margot Robbie as Stereotypical Barbie

Image courtesy of Warner Bros

With her strapless striped swimsuit and bouncy blonde hair,  Margot Robbie’s ‘Stereotypical Barbie’ look references the original doll as it debuted in 1959. The “teenage fashion model” doll from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin was designed in likeless to glamorous figures of the era like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor.

As she evolved throughout the years, adopting different looks that could be swapped out, so too does Robbie’s character mix up her outfits and beauty looks.

Ryan Gosling as Ken

Image courtesy of Warner Bros

As the movie’s teaser campaign alluded to, Ryan Gosling’s Ken is simply Ken, Barbie’s male counterpart whose ultra-blonde hair and tanned skin resembles a few different Ken dolls since the original was released in 1961. But the ‘Beach Ken’ Gosling portrays is most likely a reference to the chiselled Malibu Ken that came out in 1979.

Issa Rae as President Barbie

Image courtesy of Warner Bros

Issa Rae as President Barbie is a dream. But the real-life doll has been in circulation since 1992. And just as Rae’s character is seen donning an array of glittering outfits while she peacefully governs Barbieland, President Barbie also has been sold with a range of patriotic gowns and suit options.

During the 2020 presidential race, Mattel released a four-doll Campaign Team set with a Black Barbie candidate, a campaign manager, a fundraiser and a voter.

Dua Lipa as Mermaid Barbie

Image courtesy of Warner Bros

Mermaid Barbie has seen many versions. After all, who among us didn’t want to be part of the deep blue underworld? But Dua Lipa’s siren songstress boasts an uncanny resemblance to the Dreamtopia cartoon web-series character with her bright blue wig and glittery tail.

Hari Nef as Doctor Barbie

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You wont’ find the usual doctor accessories with Hari Nef’s iridescnet gown, but Doctor Barbie has been a staple of the Mattel universe since 1973. While the early versions wore classic scrubs and a matching surgical mask, her looks has been glammed up over the years.

Emma Mackey as Physicist Barbie

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Emma Mackey plays a Barbie that has a Nobel Prize in physics. Though this isn’t specifically emulating a real-life Barbie, it’s not a far leap form the the Scientist Barbie who can be purchased with a cropped lab coat, goggles and microscope.

Sharon Rooney as Lawyer Barbie

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The closest thing to a lawyer Barbie like Sharon Rooney’s character is the Elle Woods doll made when the sequel Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde premiered. Dressed in a pink tweed skirt suit and pillbox cap, the Reese Witherspoon version even includes her beloved pooch, Bruiser.

Ana Cruz Kayne as Supreme Court Justice Barbie

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Ana Cruz Kayne may be sporting a printed two-piece suit and bold accessories, but her real-life doll, which was included as part of Mattel’s 2019 Career of the Year release, can be found wearing traditional courtroom attire—gavel included.

Alexandra Shipp as Celebrated Author Barbie

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Alexandra Shipp’s Celebrated Author doll isn’t exactly a specific real-life doll, but could have been inspired by Mattel’s Maya Angelou doll which was launched in 2021.

Emerald Fennell as Midge

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As many people wondered after watching Emerald Fennell’s portray in the film, Barbieland’s pregnant resident Midge was indeed a real release. Launched—and swiftly pulled—in 2003, Midge was originally just another friend in 1963 before she was re-released years later with a detachable baby bump.

Michael Cera as Allan

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Oh, Allan. While you’d be forgiven for forgetting, Michael Cera’s Allan was very much real. Introduced to the world in 1964 as ‘Ken’s buddy’, the doll has been hilariously recreated with the exact outfit striped shirt and short shorts he originally wore.