In defense of Barbie - the doll
When I was a kid I had two Cabbage Patch dolls, a blond one like me, and a redhead like my mother. I loved them and brought them with me when I went to California to visit my father and maternal grandparents every summer (carrying them naked through the airport, so I wouldn’t lose their clothes). I remember mostly playing dress up with them, and making poorly sized clothes. Eventually, I got a Barbie, and she became my favorite toy.
I recently read an article about the woman who created Barbie, and why. She wanted a doll that little girls could imagine themselves in, picture their adulthood. For me mothering baby-dolls was boring. And I couldn’t see myself in the cabbage patch kids, because I was not a baby. Of course, these were not conscious thoughts of child me, they are the revelations of adult me.
I loved my Barbie. I had one. (Actually, at some point I got a second one whose hair you could curl, but a neighbor girl—or one of her siblings—stole it pretty soon after I got it.) She had long straight blond hair just like me. She worked and had a gym next to her office and a corvette she could drive anywhere. I didn’t want to be Barbie. Barbie was me. She was a version I couldn’t be. Free. Able to do whatever she wanted. And since there were no Barbie parents, and in our case, no other dolls to contend with, she didn’t have to answer to anyone, people please anyone, let anyone else determine her worth. Blonde jokes didn’t affect her, she knew she was smart. So I knew I was smart. Through her, I could live unimpeded by the outside world.
I stopped eating when I turned twelve. It was the 90s, so we all wrote it off as a phase that we would outgrow. After college it morphed into calorie counting and exercise obsession, but since those are socially acceptable, I was sure I’d outgrown my
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