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March 09, 2009


I loved my Barbies, which is why I feel conflicted when well-intentioned feminists attack them. Yes, they reinforce an unrealistic body image, etc...but when I was a kid, I wasn't looking for REALISM in my toys.

All my Barbies, Barbie clothes, and accessories were either second-hand or bought by my mom on clearance at deep discount, so it was always a huge surprise to see what Barbie-gear "Santa" brought each year. Over the years, I acquired Barbie's Corvette, beach RV, and *shopping mall* complete with a working escalator. In retrospect, this makes me sound like a raving materialist--why would a DOLL need a SHOPPING MALL?!?--but the fact that I'd receive these elaborate toys without specifically asking for them, simply because my mom had found them on sale somewhere, made them seem more like objects of grace than objects of greed.

I also had the beautician Barbie: a life-size Barbie head with makeup and adjustable hair you could "do" into short or long styles. I was a complete & utter failure as a Barbie cosmetologist, which I think is one reason why I don't even try to wear makeup and/or "do" my hair now. If I couldn't make a blonde beauty like Barbie look good, self-styling is pretty much a lost cause.

Lorianne, you're really making me laugh. You should have posted this great little Barbie essay on your own blog and gotten more mileage out of it!

I remember having several Barbies, a couple of them were hand-me-downs from my aunts. Over the years I had that beautician Barbie head, a Malibu Barbie, one that was a ballerina, and one called Growing Up Skipper. If you turned left arm clockwise, she grew little boobs; when you turned it back the other way, the boobs disappeared. Well, for a while. After many, many turnings of that arm accompanied by peals of ten-year old laughter, the boobs just mostly went away.

Ah, Barbie.

Oh, I'd forgotten about the ballerina Barbie: I had her, too. But I missed out on Growing Up Skipper: that one might have been too risque for my mom's liking. :-)

I don't know if y'all've seen this image - it was making the rounds of Tumblr yesterday. Makes me shudder.

OT - Fr. Jake is up and running again...see my blog.

You see? This is where I have been going wrong all my life.
I had a Sindy doll!
No wonder I never fit in!

PS While all my teeenage friends looked like living Barbie's I was the one who resembled Skipper, until I was 40!

I never had a Barbie doll, living in Spain as we did. But I coveted the barbie dolls of American neighbors. I love it that you sewed clothes for yours, Beth.

Middle one Rosie is heading deep into Barbie territory now, which fills me with dismay. And Ken will get his ass kicked if he appears the other side of my front door.

Don't worry too much, Dick. Barbie doesn't seem to have done me any lasting damage, and it's only the adults who fixate on her, um, Barbie-esque attributes. But Ken could be trouble, I agree.

Yes, I loved my Barbie and Sindy and all my other dolls too. Like you, Beth and Lorianne, I suspect, my interest in dolls was all about acting out imaginery scenarios and was no doubt an important component of my emotional/psychological health and development. So, while I cannot but agree with the feminist discourse re Barbie's shape etc, no I don't think it made much impression on me either at the time.

i just love barbie dolls. i like to collect them with my daughter.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.