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Happy birthday, Barbie

9 Mar

One of the best presents I ever got was a shoebox full of handmade Barbie clothes. My sister got one too, and though the clothes in each box were similar, no two pieces were exactly the same. We both got a wedding dress, but they were in different styles.

I could always differentiate my Barbie from my sister’s. Mine was a brunette like me; hers a blonde like her. Mine was also unable to wear any form of Barbie shoe because I chewed her feet off. My sister was not as orally fixated as I, and her Barbie always had intact feet.

We spent many hours playing Barbie – well into grade eight. I look at the 8th graders at my school and I can’t imagine any of them playing with dolls. I wish they were still so innocent and naive that they would.

Barbie paraphernalia appeared at birthdays and Christmas. In the early 70’s,  Barbie’s bright orange camper arrived. An airplane arrived a few years later. Even now, writing about them decades later, I still remember the scent of that vinyl.

 

At some point in high school, my mother gave my Barbie “stuff” to my nieces, without asking first. I recall being very upset, and my mother not understanding why. She just assumed we were too old.

Even now, when I cringe at the thought of Barbie and her misshapen, biologically impossible body. A Huffington Post article stated that, if she’d been real, the doll I played with would be “about six feet tall with a 39” bust, 18” waist, and 33” hips.” Despite this horrific portrayal of women, I still can’t help thinking back to the many hours my sister, our friends and I spent, happily playing with Barbies.

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