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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Belated Barbie Birthday Greetings

Before the Ides of March are ushered out for our April showers, I want to lift up the name of Barbie! Happy 50th Birthday, Barbie! We had a great run.

In my lifetime I have met women my age that claim to never have had a Barbie doll. They claim that their progressive thinking mother or their very own feminist understandings, prevented them from indulging in what they perceived to be harmful feminine role play via the Barbie Doll.

I embraced Barbie and Ken with all my young heart. She was born in 59, when I was 4 years old. My mother would not allow me to have such a mature doll until I was 6. So, in 1960, for my 6th Birthday I received the red head bubble hair Barbie. No one asked me. I did not chose her. Back in the days when gifts were gifts, not prescribed lists of must haves! She uncannily resembled my Mother?

I had played with my school chums collections and coveted all things Barbie. Being a very conservative toy spending family, this was the only Barbie I ever received and I have her still. I also have my original Ken doll and all of the clothes and accessories I ever received. It is not a giant collection. My parents divorced when I was 6 and toys were low on the list of expenditures.

I role played the perfect family with my Barbie and Ken. She was the perfect Mother and he was the Perfect Father to the 10 cent plastic baby I bought at the S.S.Kresge Store. It was a tiny baby replica no bigger than 3 inches. The eyes actually opened and closed. I made a diaper from toilet paper and scotch tape that to this day adorns it's bottom. I sewed clothes for the girls and even knit a few tiny garments on the size 2 needles I first learned on.

My friends would rush through a long list of cleaning chores on Saturday morning so we could take our coins to the Dime store. I always had enough to buy a trinket and sit at the soda fountain counter for the 99 cent lunch. A grilled cheese sandwich, potato chips, pickles and soda. It also included a "pop the balloon" to see how much a hot fudge sundae would cost you. Priced between 1 penny and 69 cents! Budgeting and value shopping were instilled early on.

Barbie was an inspiration. Her career path was unheard of for women of the day. She was a revolutionary, ground breaking doll. I do not regret a minute spent with her and her kind. I feel sorry for the misguided girls that eschewed all things feminine, maternal or domestic during their youth. May I be so bold to say, in my observation, many of these ladies are in perpetual pursuit of a feminine perfection and perverted body image that they claim Barbie represented? My brushstroke may seem broad, but I defend my right to wield it as my own observation.


Laura Metzger said...

What a wonderful write-up on Barbie ... and I agree with your observations. I still remember when Barbie was available in our local mall (itself a new phenomenon) and my parents allowed me to buy one. Mine has yellow hair and a black striped swim suit -- I still have her although I admit she is packed away in the attic somewhere. But my girlfriends and I played a lot with Barbie and we had a good time doing so. I wonder a bit at the collection young girls now have -- how many Barbies do you really need? But Barbie and Ken (and I had a Midge and Skipper too) were a great past time for us. We made clothes and created houses (not the big plastic ones they sell now, but shoe boxes and other treasures papered and decorated!) Thanks for bringing back the memories!

HeadKnitwit said...
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Anonymous said...

Wow, you are an awesome writer. Loved this! Just another one of your many talents…

Company in town, so missed today’s lessons, etc. Next week is spring break for us, but in 2 weeks from today, will the knit wits meet?

Happy Easter. All the best, xo, Becky

Anonymous said...

I am much too old to have enjoyed Barbie as a child. We had rag dolls! However, Pam delighted in many hours spent with Barbie & Ken. I remember the little girl next door would come over every day after she & Pam got home from kindergarten & spend hours just getting everything set up. Then just as they had achieved that it would be time to start dismantling as Adrienne had to go home at 5:00 for dinner. I often wondered if they actually had any time to "play" with the dolls but I soon realized part of the beauty of Barbie & Ken was setting up house & then taking it down. Ahhhh, great memories! :>) K