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.
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.