My secret pleasure…

BARBIES!

BARBIES!

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.

Barbie #25

Barbie #25

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…

Barbie #32

Barbie #32

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.

barbie-32

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.

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Bebe, the doll from Daddy

Surely little Kerry couldn't be naughty?

Surely little Kerry couldn’t be naughty?

It’s time to lighten the mood, eh? The baby doll that my charismatic father sent me was called Bebe by me because I couldn’t pronounce Baby. Don’t laugh but I had some trouble with language as a child. It took me a while to speak – I would point at things that I wanted and just say, ‘mmmm’ very adamantly. My Nana and mum were very worried about this and tried everything to get me to speak properly. I was also unable to say my own name and I was Keggy for a while. Then…apparently I came out with a sentence and never stopped.

Bebe was the bane of my mum’s life. It was incredibly lifelike and quite heavy. I would insist that I would be able to carry Bebe for the whole trip and then start sobbing about how heavy she was. My mum would exasperatedly take Bebe and on one funny occasion shoved her under arm like a sack of potatoes. A lady on the bus started tutting and telling my mum that was no way to hold a baby – I got the death stare…

Despite the angst of the arrival of the doll both my Nana and Mum adored her. They knitted and crocheted delicate layettes of clothes for her – perhaps it was a way of recreating how my birth and arrival could have been? I cared for Bebe too but was obsessed with stripping all my dolls naked and shoving them in the closet. This incensed my loving care-givers for some reason – it’s just a doll!!!

I had another slightly more worrying habit that meant that I was only allowed plastic scissors until I was at high school. SCISSORS – I love them! My first felony was to steal the dressmaking shears and create a doll’s outfit out of my mother’s last glamorous negligee from the States. The criminal activity continued and I particularly loved cutting my doll’s hair. They tried to address this by getting me a Tressie doll (it had extending hair) and a Clairol doll sent from New York. None of it worked.

One day I was sitting on the stairs with Bebe and a pair of scissors in my hand. I just couldn’t control the urge – Kerry Scissor Hands. I snipped her beautiful blonde hair into a punk mess and it felt so cathartic until it didn’t… ‘What had I done’, I thought ‘and what do I do with the evidence?’ In my panic I thought the sensible action was to run up the stairs, open the bedroom window and throw the hair out. My Nana, unfortunately, was hanging out the sheets when she was showered with Bebe hair…

Well, I will leave it to your imagination what happened next. Let’s just say that I was treated like one of the torturers at Abu Graib – castigated from society, all scissors taken out of my reach and was convinced I would go to toy hell. Heck, this has given me such a laugh. RIP Bebe.