From the infamous Earring Magic Ken and Ken’s Best Friend Allan to Video Girl Barbie and the ever-pregnant Midge, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie is chock-full of cameos from the most distant corners of the Barbie canon. There’s even an appearance from the notorious Growing Up Skipper — Barbie’s little sister, whose boobs grew if you turned her arm.
But while a version of Skipper made her live-action theatrical debut in Barbie (and the Mattel corporate suits mention another Skipper, who they say escaped into the real world and then nearly drowned a child in a surfing accident), the rest of Barbie’s family is nowhere to be seen.
That’s right: Barbie has a family, and it’s pretty big. And in Barbie’s current incarnation in the movies and TV shows (which extends to a lot of toy counterparts), her family plays a huge role in her life.
Ever since 2018, Barbie’s animated adventures have been a little more grounded in reality than the solely fairy-tale-based stories of the early 2000s. (Though she does still get to befriend mermaids and swap places with princesses.) In her recent stories, she’s just a regular girl from Malibu, albeit with big dreams and an astonishing amount of free time to put those dreams into action, when she isn’t getting pulled into wacky adventures. The 2018 Netflix show Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures kicked off this era. More importantly, it dives into the lives of Barbie’s family, who had previously just been side characters in Barbie’s story.
Since her early days, Barbie has always had family members, including several discontinued younger siblings and cousins who have been eradicated from canon. But now more than ever, they’ve been heavily emphasized, to the point where a few of them have had movies and TV shows of their own. Here’s a who’s who of the Barbie family mythos — and what Skipper’s up to now that her toys aren’t emphasizing her boob growth.
Skipper Roberts is Barbie’s OG sister, first introduced in 1964, and the Barbie sister mentioned in Gerwig’s Barbie. She’s the second-oldest sister in the Roberts family, at 14 years old, though she was originally introduced as an 8-year-old. Growing Up Skipper came out in 1975, back when Skipper was a blonde, and she’s come a long way since those days. The doll was briefly discontinued in 2003, but revamped in 2009. The current incarnation of Skipper is a brunette with streaks in her hair, and she’s smart, tech-savvy, and an aspiring innovator and DJ. She stars in the most recent animated Barbie movie, Barbie: Skipper and the Big Babysitting Adventure.
Stacie Roberts was first introduced in 1990, as a flower girl in the Wedding Party Midge set. She was originally named Kelly, but that name was then repurposed for the youngest Roberts sister. Stacie was reintroduced in 1992. In the current canon, she’s a competitive, athletic 11-year-old who’s always ready to jump into action. She’s the only sister who hasn’t had a stand-alone movie yet, but Barbie: Stacie to the Rescue is scheduled for a 2024 release on Netflix. As the middle children, Stacie and Skipper are the closest.
Chelsea Roberts is Barbie’s youngest sister, though you might know her as Kelly, or in Europe, Shelly. She was first introduced in 1995, then rebranded as Chelsea in 2011. She has a big imagination and loves animals, and canonically turns 7 in her solo movie Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday. She was the star of the Barbie YouTube series Barbie: Dreamtopia.
And contrary to popular belief, Barbie and her sisters actually do have parents. They’re heavily featured in Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures, and sometimes appear in the Netflix movies. Margaret Rawlins Roberts is the matriarch of the family, a computer engineer who designed Barbie’s high-tech DreamHouse. (Her original iteration back in 1960 was a homemaker.) George Roberts is Barbie’s dad, a documentary filmmaker. (His original iteration was an engineer.) Neither of Barbie’s parents have doll versions, though, which explains why they aren’t citizens of Barbieland in the Gerwig movie.
Barbie has even more extended relatives who appear in the movies and TV shows, though few of them actually have doll counterparts. (Also, tracking what’s canon in the Barbie movie-verse gets a little funky prior to 2018.) Of course, adding in Barbie’s sisters and relatives would’ve bloated Gerwig’s Barbie, and surfaced a lot of logistical questions. (Would every Barbie in Barbieland have three sisters? Would the Skippers just be everyone’s communal little sisters?)
But Barbie has been many things, and “big sister” is one of the more grounded and approachable roles she offers for little girls playing with Barbies. The movies that dig into Barbie’s relationships with her sisters offer a new side to the usually flawless fashion doll. As it turns out, being a big sister is hard work! And even though Barbie does her best to be there for her little sisters, she doesn’t always make the right choices. It gives her a more human edge, just like Margot Robbie’s Barbie in the live-action movie.