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?
What did you dream about? Not last night. And, not while you were sleeping. What did you dream about as a child? Did you think you could figure out how to make world peace happen? Or, find a way for women to be respected and not harmed? Or did you dream about having the white picket fence, 2.5 children, husband or wife, and a dog? Or was that the Barbie world of Ken dolls, Corvettes, and G.I. Joe? How about a dream of opening a bakery, or becoming a lawyer?
This Daily Worth article by Amanda Steinberg is a tribute to Jody Sherman, former CEO of ecomom.com. Jody recently took his own life. This is an excerpt from her tribute:
“Girls (so I thought) were supposed to dream about carpeted split-levels and baking cookies for their kids. As a 7 year-old, I’d fantasize about flying planes over Somalia to deliver food, or marching into Palestine to ask, Can we resolve this already? I feel most at home when I’m not home—out in the mess of the world, working on solutions to huge, systemic problems.”
Amanda’s look back at her childhood makes me think back to mine. My dreams ebbed and flowed. I did not have the wedding notebook, or dream about kids. I think the experiences I had as a child were a bit limited so I had no idea how much of the world I was truly missing out on. The memories I have of my dreams, were about writing and being an author (which I find so interesting today), being an artist, and being an entrepreneur. I think the art I did at school, selling Girl Scout cookies, canvasing for my paper route, and selling candies and nuts for school, made me think about what other kinds of business ideas I could come up with in the future. It is interesting to look back on what engaged me when I was young compared to where I am today.
I also remember having a dream to be able to take care of my family. For me that meant being able to pay my bills and having food on the table. Sometimes our dreams have more to do with what we do not have, and wanting the security and fulfillment to know we do not have to worry anymore. I am grateful that dream has come true.
I was a Barbie girl. I did not really play with dolls, or horses (except My Little Pony), or cars, or trains. I played with Barbies. I had about 12 of them (not sure if that is normal or not). I had a light pink Barbie corvette, a townhouse with an elevator that went up and down with a string pulley (it was the 80’s). I had the Barbie salon where you could use wash their hair, and color it using special “markers” that washed out later. They do not tell you that you can color Barbie’s hair, but you should never cut it (Barbie will never look the same again). I had exercise Barbie, ballroom Barbie, wedding Barbie and wedding Ken, I had bikini Barbie (she got the haircut), and a slew of others I do not remember. All of these were gifts given over many birthdays, and they were dearly loved.
I was reminded of my Barbie memories after a conversation at work yesterday that originated from superheros dimensions to Barbie dimensions. We then found the following article about if Barbie was life-size what would she actually look like. (For those of you that do not click the link you are missing out, it is quite shocking). The article explains that Barbie would be 5 foot 9 inches, weight 110 pounds, wear a size 3 shoe, a 39″ bust, 18″ waist, and 33″ hips. Gulp. So if you still have not clicked the link, do so now.
What is funny about my experience with Barbies (for those of you with young little girls) is I think playing with them got a lot of the girly stuff out of my system. I have a lot of friends that purposely ban Barbie and other toys that do not lead to positive images of women. Then those are the only toys they want. I do not know what I’ll do when I have kids. There is a part of me that thinks that I will feel the same way, that it will just be a yuck feeling I will have about any toys that do not lead to a positive, strong view of women. Having said all that, I loved playing with my Barbies and would beg my sister to play with me. Now I am starting to think that being all girly when I was young has meant I am not as girly now. So maybe it was not such a bad thing.
Regardless of if I got it out of my system, did I know at that age that Barbie was not anatomically correct? Probably not. However, I do think Mattel should fix Barbie so that she is more normal/true to real woman size. Convincing Mattel should not be that hard right? Ha.