If you love Barbie. If you hate Barbie. This science is for you.

So you bought a pink jumpsuit, dug out your Peaches ‘n Cream doll and booked tickets to the movie. 

If you’re not totally Barbied out yet, Cosmos has pulled together a Barbie-and-the-Rockers-themed mixtape of our favourite science coverage of the controversial plastic toy. 

Toy to play with or collector’s item?

Cosmos asked Museums Victoria how three Barbies from 1990s ended up in the museum’s collection. The answer might surprise you.

Read: Toy story: How three Barbies found their way into a Victorian museum collection of playthings

Barbie museum 1 credit petra stock
These Barbies are only visiting, they are not the ones in Museums Victoria’s collection / Credit: Petra Stock

Barbie chemistry

But as it turns out, collecting Barbies poses particular problems for museums, because all those plastics are prone to deterioration. Italian researchers used analytical chemistry to unlock the secrets behind the polymer cocktail used in manufacturing the dolls.

Read: Plastic artefact: What is Barbie even made of?

The science behind Barbie controversies

Since the doll’s debut in 1959, Barbie has been centre-stage in a seemingly endless series of concerns and conflict. 

Cosmos Barbie explainer and podcast opens the toy box to find a trove of research into the doll’s effect on body image, gender stereotyping, career aspiration, cyber security and even toxic chemicals.

Read: Barbie: let’s get our sparkle on with the science of the world’s most famous doll

Listen: Think Pink: The Science of Barbie

Does playing with Barbie affect children’s body image?

Perhaps you’re thinking of indulging in one of the many new ‘Margot Robbie as Barbie’ special edition dolls, but worried about whether the doll might be a bad influence. 

In this video, Cosmos asks expert Dr Zali Yager to explain the research on body image and mental health, and where Barbie fits in.

Watch: Barbie dolls and body image

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