I was a Barbie girl. Yes, I hounded my sister daily to play Barbies with me. She hated it. I of course still persisted. I probably had 10 different Barbies and one Ken doll to go along with them. I am not sure what ever made me want to play with Barbie. It is hard to see in hindsight as I am so far from a Barbie girl these days. I, of course, did not see that their feet were set in a previous high heel position, or that getting their high heels on was nearly impossible. Is that why I hate high heels today?
One of mine had a fake tan (I think she was called Bikini Barbie), another was Exercise Barbie with her own workout outfits, one had a fancy dress, another was Bride Barbie, but other than their differing outfits they all looked the same — not much to differentiate them from the other. I know I made up different scenarios and enjoyed trying to create different clothing options — so maybe I was interested in design and had no idea. Other than that I do not remember why I was so enamored with Barbie.
Fast forward to 2015 and Barbie launches this new ad that is not about fashion and looks, but rather teaching, sports, and taking care of animals. It goes deeper. While maybe it feels like the adults looking on are laughing at them, I wonder if the laughing is fascination with what is coming out of each girls mouth. I am not sure what a young girl would think if they watched this ad, but I hope that the message at the end: “When a Girl Plays with Barbie She Imagines Everything She Can Become.” My hope is that a girl does not have to just play with Barbie, but that when a girl plays at all her imagination lets her create the world around her so she sees all she can be.
Recently my sister reminded me about how much I used to love my Barbie dolls as a kid. I would bug her endlessly by asking her if she wanted to play Barbies with me. She could not stand playing with my Barbies and did not pretend to enjoy it, and yet I still always asked. Sometimes I think she just could not stand to hear me ask again and would cave in and play, and other times I think my mom told her she had to play with me.
Ah, Barbies. It makes me laugh that I was so addicted. I can remember that I had about 10 different Barbies, a cardboard-esque townhouse, a car (but not THE Barbie corvette – I had the knockoff version), and the beauty salon. I can remember the beauty salon. It had a special marker that you used to color Barbie’s hair, and then you could put her in a seat that somehow piped water thorough this straw thing to wash her hair. What a mess. What I learned the hard way was that you should never cut Barbie’s hair. It does not grow back, nor does it grow like human hair.
Barbie’s clothes were also impossible to put on at times. I can remember I had one Ken doll for my 10 Barbies. He had two outfits; a white tuxedo, and workout clothes. The tuxedo pants would not go on or off without my putting baby powder on his legs and in the pants. I guess you get crafty when you have to!
I am no longer a Barbie girl. It makes me laugh to think back to little me, and then to me today.
Okay, I confess. I was a Barbie girl. You would not find me playing with horses, or GI Joes, I was 100% a Barbie girl. You could bring over your horse or GI Joe, but I would only play if it meant that Barbie would be involved. I do not know if it was considered a lot, but I had about 10 different Barbies, in addition to the townhouse (with string powered elevator) and the hair salon. I was obsessed with changing their outfits, combing their hair, and even gave one a haircut. Little did I know that Barbie’s hair would not grow back like mine always had.
my one saved Barbie
Yesterday when I saw this article on the Huffington Post. I had to laugh. What would Barbie look like without her makeup on? Click the above link to see. In my mind, she looks like an exhausted mom. Even so, I think that Mattel should sell a Barbie without makeup. It would show little girls that women are real, and they are beautiful with and without makeup. We do not always look amazing in the morning, and sometimes we do. Either way the reality should be present in toys that kids purchase. Free of fake eyelashes, eyeshadow, and foundation to cover up moles.
I wonder what it would have been like if my Barbie dolls looked like real woman (even in the way their feet are formed) would I have had a different idea of beauty as I grew up? Luckily I got makeup out of my system at an early age, and eventually formulated my own view of what was beautiful to me, and makeup was not on that list. I know the discourse and dialogue around creating an anatomically correct Barbie doll is old news, but I still think it needs to happen. I wonder though if makeup free, “accurate” dolls were created, would little girls be interested? Have we created little monsters?
Hopefully the trend can be reversed and there can be a happy medium. Instead of Barbie without makeup that looks exhausted and worn out, we could just have natural Barbie that has flat feet, wears her Chacos, looks energized, and maybe just wears lip gloss. Is that too much to ask?