Monday, March 30, 2009

Come on Barbie, Let's Go Party!

I read an article in the paper the other day that announced Barbie, the plastic princess so adored by little girls everywhere, turned 50 this month! The writer has fun discovering different designers' takes on Barbie's abode. I set the article aside to remind myself to blog my musings on this grand event, and then it got lost under my taxes.

My very first Barbie was a blonde Skipper doll dressed in a sassy red and white cowboy outfit. She was a (Christmas?) gift from my Granny and O'pa when I was 2 or 3. I loved her so much. Until one of our Irish setters took her outside. The body was never found. Somewhere I have her flirty chevron striped sundress. Poor Skipper.

When I was 4 or 5, Mattel came out with DaytoNight Barbie. Is it wrong that I remember this commercial? Day to Night Barbie was the epitome of the 80s "It" girl to me. She got to carry a fancy white briefcase to an office job every day while wearing a suit, and at night she changed into a hot cocktail dress for a date with Ken. To a 5 year old, this seemed like the most glamorous life I could imagine. I mean, she had a briefcase, people! Several years later (okay, more than several), I still think her life is more exciting than mine, but I do have a briefcase of sorts. Technically, it's a shoulder bag I got on clearance at AC Moore, but it is really pretty and my laptop fits inside. I didn't get Day to Night Barbie for my 5th birthday, but Santa did send me the Barbie Heart Family that Christmas, after I prayed obsessively for months. That was probably the best Christmas gift I received as a child. I don't remember ever being so excited over another gift.

My sister and I were equally obsessed with Barbies. We did a count once, and we had at least 42 Barbies, Kens, Skippers, Midges, etc. They all lived in a big, hand-made dollhouse that our O'pa made when our dad's sister was young. It was basically a big, white box with cabinet-type doors on the front; but it had stairs, real carpet, and curtains. Fitting 42 Barbies and all their accessories in one dollhouse is tricky, so I did what any self-respecting sister would do. I told Alison that her dolls could occupy the roof apartment on top of the house, since I had more furniture. This worked out for some time, but she turned out to be pretty smart. I now experience debilitating guilt all these years later.

Barbie was a great way for us to bond, when we weren't screaming at each other. My mom even bought Jamie his own Ken doll in hopes that we might play with our own brother. No such luck. We took the baby that Ken came with, and told Jamie that his Ken could live in another city (his room down the hall). Every so often, we'd call down the hallway that we were packing up the Barbie car to come for a "visit" to keep him at bay.

I know some parents have problems with Barbie and fears of the issues she might spark with body image. But I'll take what I've got over stiff arms that never straighten (the 1980s Barbies all had arms bent at 90 degree angles) and the same eye shadow and lipstick day after day. I liked Barbie because she had a million cute outfits and a million fun jobs (mom, doctor, nurse, teacher, astronaut, rocker chick, safari guide, surfer....)

So, in the words of the infamous Aqua hit..."Come on, Barbie, let's go party." If you invite me to your bash at the Dream House, I'll let you wear that cute little chevron striped dress. It might have a little bit of Irish Setter drool on it though.

{Did you have any favorite Barbies?}


  1. Me and Barbie.....close like this, *imagine pointer and tall man held together*,sharing a birthday! I had Barbie and Midge, and a Ken, too. I might have had a Skipper, too.

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  3. All my Barbies sort of meld together in my mind. I just liked doing their hair and giving them tattoos and piercing their ears. Yes, even at 6 I was full of angst. I remember frying Malibu Barbie's pretty blonde locks over our Kerosene heater because it crimped (read: fried and curled the heck out of) her very fake and plastic hair!

    My favorite Ken was one that had real, dark hair (not just the molded plastic coif) and he came with a brown marker that you could draw facial hair on him with and then "shave" it off with a teeny plastic "razor" that you doused in water. My Ken had some very interesting body hair-dos *blush* LOL :)

  4. Oh I adore thee! What I remember most was the pink plactic caryying case I housed them in. I LOVED that thing. I also had a Farrah Faucet doll that probably came from a yard sale. This was the pre-surgery, non alien mutant Farrah. She was gorgeous. I whacked off all her lovely hair and ruined sad. Fun times.

  5. I only had a couple of Barbies (can't remember which ones) but one of my good friends had the dream house. I always wanted to play at her house. :)

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