My relationship with Barbie was an interesting one. I was only given a single Black barbie, I’m not sure if there were Latina barbies when I was little. My Aunt (the educated career woman) made sure they had curly hair and were professionals that I could look up to. My Aunt even took it to another level and usually bought me a book with the doll she bought me in hopes I would be more fascinated with reading than playing with the warped ideal of beauty our society encourages us to buy into at a young age. Well done Auntie, well done. I did get in fact get bored with that doll in a hurry and continued my love affair with books for many, many more years.
My mom was cool with me having different Barbies of different cultures (we rarely bought them but I inherited many from a friend that out grew all her ‘baby’ toys) but said absolutely no Ken dolls. Why? Because they weren’t anatomically correct and she was concerned I would be confused and frightened later on in life.
My mother also made sure I understood that I knew that I would never look like Barbie. Later she was thrilled when I learned that Barbie would have to crawl to properly support her chest size as her shape was absolutely impossibility unhealthy to function with those proportions.
Maybe I’m a bit of a feminist, that is debatable. I never wanted to be Barbie as a child, I only wanted to design clothes for her and style her hair. I mean, who else can you create fashionable dresses for out of your mismatched frilly socks? I learned to layer my hair cuts from her which was helpful as I cut my own hair for a couple years. I also loved to pack her van for long trips and let her chill in her house in the jacuzzi. Sadly though I would get bored and she would at times end her relaxing soak with a blow dryer falling in the water (not my fault she was trying to multitask, I knew you weren’t supposed to play with electronics when in water) and she would have to be carted out on a make shift gurney with a Kleenex as a sheet over her corpse.
Barbie for me was fun until I bought a Black Barbie that was supposed to be a Miss Universe contestant from an African country, she was expensive for me at the tender age of 12 and within a week of owning her my little sister and I were trying to see how flexible her legs were and broke one of her legs out of her torso completely. I was upset with how shoddy it was made (obviously it had nothing to do with the fact that my sister and I were yanking on her legs like a wish bone) and swore I wouldn’t buy anymore Barbies. I gave all my dolls to my little sister and I don’t think they were in our home for much longer as my sister quickly deemed them ‘baby’ toys.
I see even today Barbie still has a strong hold on many girls interest. Which, again, makes me thrilled that I am a mother of two boys. It’s less of an issue of whether or not I would let them buy these dolls and the possible impact on their self worth and self image. Now I have to convince my boys to love that we are all beautifully made in a huge variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
I guess no girl get’s to completely stop thinking about Barbie after all.