Get your minds out of the gutters – it’s Barbies! One of my secret wishes was to win the lottery and then have a (small) room full of Barbies, antique and new. My desire was triggered this year by an article in Time magazine profiling a new set of Barbies that are curvy, petite, tall and generally different. They come in a variety of ethnicities and my heart started pounding.
When I was a child, an aunt from California sent me a Francie. She was Barbie’s friend and like me, she had dark curly hair and eyes. She came with a wardrobe full of snazzy clothes and shoes. I was in heaven. Barbie’s were not as popular in the UK and NOBODY had a Francie! In the packaging was a little catalog for other Barbie friends. One of them was Diahann Carrol (link courtesy of Amazon), the first African American doll I had ever seen. I longed for my aunt to read my mind and send me one but I think she had sent Francie because our family is Hispanic. My favorite of Francie’s outfits was a black chiffon midi skirt with white blouse. When I was 19 I bought an expensive black chiffon midi skirt exactly the same. This was money intended for law books but I HAD to have the skirt…
The Time article focused on the more realistic aspects of these new dolls and as much as I appreciate this, I never thought that skinny Barbie with tiny feet was real. Later my mum bought me a real Barbie at great cost with beautiful long straight copper hair. I have mentioned my other fetish before – scissors! I was only allowed plastic scissors until I was 12 because of my penchant for cutting doll’s hair and mum’s best lingerie. Despite all that, I could not resist cutting the long copper hair. My mum was so disappointed in me. I was sad that she had a pixie crop but it felt SO good. I wonder what Freud would make of all this.
Back to the present, I was in Walmart and saw Doll #32 and Doll#25. I just had to have them. There were a few adults looking for gifts (the children were all transfixed by Frozen dolls) and I helped a girl find a red-headed doll for her niece. Finally we found the perfect one wearing a soccer outfit. I have thought really hard about why I chose the dolls I did. Their figure was of no consequence but their hair and skin tone, along with clothes influenced my choice. After Christmas, I opened them and the first thing I noticed was that Doll #32’s lovely long hair was stuck with glue to the box. Sacrilege! I combed it out and then – wait for it – trimmed the knotted section off. Then I tied her hair back and tried to plait it.
Doll #25’s hair was even more upsetting. Her hair looked like it was pulled up but you couldn’t comb it without ruining it. The final straw was discovering that neither of them had any underwear on. My Nana speaks through me… The pleasure was short-lived and I have placed them perfectly back in their boxes to give to charity. At least one of them has better hair than she started with. The final conundrum was why are they numbered and not named? I think they are really aimed at adults, collectors, gay men and mentally ill women. My act of kindness is to name them, #25 is Winter and #32 is Autumn.