I LOVED Barbie as a kid. Really Really. I would set up the most elaborate condos made of cardboard boxes. I even crocheted a bedspread for my Barbie. Correction, Barbies. I had tons of them: Barbie, Midge, Francie, Stacie….
I had one hand-me-down from my sister, an old straight-legged Barbie with blue eyeshadow and stiff blond hair. She looked old. I would name her something like Madge, or Louise and her role would be the mean step mother, or more often the mean lady who ran the boarding house where the other girls lived. My favorite was a Stacie doll, with beautiful long red hair in a pony tail that reached down to her waist. Another favorite was my traditional blond Barbie and a brunette who’s hair was styled a la Marlo Thomas in “That Girl.” Of course I only had one Ken doll. At some point, his arm came out of the socket, so he wore a rubber band “sling” the result of some exotic activity like skiing or mountain climbing. I had a Barbie convertible too.
I would play out intricate story lines that would make a screenwriter weep. OK, well, maybe a screenwriter for Made-For-TV mini series, as the story would go on for days. I hated having to put my Barbies away….
Then at some point I hated Barbie…. the idea of Barbie. The impossible ideal of Barbie. The skinny bitch Barbie. The skinny bitch with her perfectly pert boobs, and her teeny tiny waist. She even had perfect legs. If you consider thighs that are no wider than her arms perfect… Barbie wasn’t knock kneed. Barbie didn’t wear braces. Barbie didn’t wear size 36″ Levis. Barbie never had a pimple. Barbie had a perfect boyfriend (even if he always had to wear a sling).
I am nostalgic for for Barbie, for the love of Barbie. Or maybe its for the stories I created, I don’t know. But a couple of years ago, some neighbor girls were selling some of their old toys to raise money for something. And there, in a bright orange felt suit, a Stacie doll with her lovely red ponytail. I bought her for a dollar, and she sits on my bookshelf. Right next to Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction