Fact Check

Was Barbie Originally from Wisconsin?

She’s been to Malibu and space but her roots are in small-town America.

Published July 16, 2023

 ( Getty Images)
Image courtesy of Getty Images
Barbie is from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.

She's traveled the world and been to space, held hundreds of jobs, but Barbie's roots have always been in small-town middle America. Before the much-anticipated "Barbie" movie released in July 2023, many online shared the claim that the fictional doll had roots in Wisconsin.

     Was reading about Barbie in another subreddit and found out she's from a fictional city in Wisconsin!
by      u/nejicanspin in      wisconsin    


In an interview before the premiere of the movie, singer Ava Max, who contributed to the soundtrack, was asked, "Where is Barbie from?" While Max didn't know, the interviewer said the answer was Wisconsin. 

This is correct. According to Mattel, the toy company behind the famous doll, she is from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin, where she attended high school.

A 2015 video from Barbie's official YouTube channel offered a slightly different version of her childhood story, stating that she only lived in Wisconsin until the age of 8. In the video, Barbie describes her birth and upbringing:

My parents got stuck in a snowstorm in Wisconsin on March 9th. I know that because, that's the day I was born. They got so stuck on the way to the hospital, they had to flag down a snowplow. Bart, the driver, got us to the hospital safely so my dad wanted to name me after him but my mom said "no." Thank you mom!

My sisters, Stacy and Skipper were also born in Wisconsin. And yes, we all like cheese and the Packers. Go Packers! I loved growing up in Wisconsin and it only got better when my sisters were born. We loved these two trees in our backyard. I was really active. I was climbing them and falling out of them... even broke my arm once. My friends drew pictures of daisy flowers all over my cast.

My granddad would take us on the best treasure hunts. And in the winter, ice skating on the lake. It just seemed so big back then but this summer I saw that lake and it was just a cute little pond. But that's just me. I've always had a big imagination. I used to get in trouble in kindergarten for making up stories and day dreaming. But my parents never really got angry.

Well, accept for this one time. I decided that my dad's black, cashmere sweater would make a perfect dress for Stacy. A couple cuts here, a couple cuts there and... Voila! A dress. Let's just say I haven't done that since.

My life changed in a big way when I was eight. We left Wisconsin and moved to Malibu, California. I was so excited to learn how to surf but... I would miss trees, the winter and my grandparents. And then there was the new school. I was already shy and then I became even more shy. But, over time I realized I could be whoever I wanted to be. Be funny. Be goofy. Just be me. And, I made friends who liked me for me.

Mattel even honored Barbie's roots by creating a "Willows, WI Collection," which included the 2015 edition, "Homecoming Queen" Barbie. According to the description: 

Celebrate Barbie® doll's life before she moved to Malibu with a doll that brings back favorite memories of growing up in her hometown. The second doll in the Willows, WI series revisits special times throughout her heritage and all the simple joys of fun, friendship and days past. Barbie® is poised and ready to be crowned the queen of the local homecoming dance with her hair swept into her signature ponytail, wearing a beautiful multi-tiered aqua formal and "holding" a bouquet of long-stemmed roses. 

A 2015 archived version of Mattel's website featuring another Barbie creation from the same collection describes her upbringing this way:

You see, Barbie® wasn't always the trend-setting global icon we know today. Once upon a time, she was a girl just like any other, growing up in a small town in middle America. Before there was a Dreamhouse®, there was a much simpler home. Before the glamorous clubs, there were the high school dances and sock hops. Before the red carpet premieres, there was a family car at the local drive-in.

The Willows, WI™ Collection sets out to capture that idyllic picture of generations ago – one that's never far away from our memories, that inspire us to focus on the things in life that matter the most. It's the era in which Barbie® grew up, where she learned the values that kept her grounded even as her star continued to rise.

For more Barbie doll trivia, check out Snopes' coverage of the origins of Barbie's name, as well as those of other famous fictional characters like Scooby-Doo. 

Given that Mattel has confirmed the name and location of Barbie's hometown on its website, official YouTube channel, and through its doll collection, we rate this claim as True. 


"Barbie: DRAW MY LIFE! | Barbie Vlogs." Barbie, Oct. 2, 2015. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0Kx7YujyEg. Accessed 12 July 2023.

"Fast Facts." Barbie. http://www.barbiemedia.com/about-barbie/fast-facts.html#:~:text=She%20is%20from%20(fictional)%20Willows,%2Dand%2Dwhite%20striped%20swimsuit. Accessed 12 July 2023.

"Go Back to Where It All Began for Barbie® With the Willows, WI™ Collection!" Mattel Creations, July 18, 2015. https://web.archive.org/web/20211017143950/https://community.creations.mattel.com/news/barbie/public-news-stories/go-back-to-where-it-all-began-for-barbie%C2%AE-with-the-willows-wi%E2%84%A2-collection-r485/. Accessed 12 July 2023.

"Homecoming Queen™ Barbie® Doll Willows, WI™ Collection." Mattel. https://m.service.mattel.com/us/Technical/TechnicalProductDetail?prodno=CJF57&siteid=27&catid=506. Accessed 12 July 2023.

Ibrahim, Nur. "Is Barbie's Real Name 'Barbara'?" Snopes, 23 Aug. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/barbie-real-name-is-barbara/. Accessed 12 July 2023.

Lee, Jessica. "Is Scooby Doo's First Name Actually 'Scoobert'?" Snopes, 25 Jan. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/scooby-doo-actually-scoobert/. Accessed 12 July 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.