Monday, April 2, 2012

BARBIE (A-Z April Blog Challenge)

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Looking back, the penchant I had for biting off the fingers and toes of every Barbie doll I owned was a strong sign.  Of what, I don’t know, but I’m sure it wasn’t good.  What I do know is that Barbie never wore a swimsuit or a pair of short shorts and a tank top.  I mean, really… without any fingers or toes, she just didn’t have “the look” any more.  I was all about putting her in the long sleeved gloves that reached past her elbows, or little white ones with frilly cuffs.  She wore boots or heels – never sandals.  
Barbie lived a simple life and wasn’t surrounded by all her store bought hype and perfection.  There was no fancy pink car, no motor home, no mansion.  She rode around town in a cut out toothpaste box.  Her house was tastefully decorated with the Sears & Roebuck catalog as her bed which sported one of my dad’s hankies draped over it as her bedspread.  Her living room furniture was a variety of deodorant can tops for chairs, and other household items that worked for couches and end tables.  The rugs were easily changed out with whatever color washcloth I had on hand.  Pencils marked walls, hallways and doors.   
I never felt lacking that I didn’t have the fancy extras - it was all part of just playing Barbie and letting my imagination take over.  And it was great.  Many years before, Nana Wood, the grandmother I never knew, sewed beautiful custom outfits for the Barbies my older sisters played with.  Those clothes and the Barbies got handed down to me.  So mine was a real dichotomy, dressed to the nines with no fingers or toes, entertaining in her pencil lined living room as her guests sat on rolled up socks for bean bag chairs. 
So about those missing fingers and toes……………
1994 was a tough year for me.  I lost about 70 pounds, got down to a weight lower than I ever remembered being in my life and permed the hell out of my long, blonde, fine, bone straight hair.   It was my outward manifestation of working on some intensely personal and emotional issues.  And to hide what was going on inside, I made myself look totally unlike me on the outside.  I looked like Barbie. (Absolutely unattainable figure measurements not withstanding – let’s be real, NO ONE can look like Barbie in THAT way!)
For Christmas that year, my sister gave me a sweatshirt, meant in the most loving way, that I cherished.  It read:  I want to be just like Barbie.  That bitch has everything.  
Well, everything except her fingers and toes I guess. I’d purposefully ruined her perfection.  I’d carried Barbie’s dichotomy with me all those years, always projecting one person on the outside while another, different me, was hidden underneath. Over time, just like with my Barbie, I covered my flaws and scars.    
Since ’94, I’ve done my best to become more honest with myself.  To search out those flaws and scars, resolve or accept them and find a sense of peace.    

In Barbie-speak I guess you could say that the gloves have finally come off.  This summer you might even find me in sandals…………


  1. Hi. When I sat in front of my computer this morning to read A-Z bloggings with a huge mug of coffee in my hand as I will do almost everyday this month, I have to admit that I never expected to read one that I found so close to my heart. Throughout the lines that you explain your '94 trouble, it was as if I was looking at my past. Even if my problem wasn't same with yours, I know what it is to be an outsider, a black sheep. A very nice and touching post, congratulations.

  2. Barbie was the first "victim" in my life long love of sewing. My Barbie always wore my own creations and looked beautiful in them, too. Plus she never complained when I had to make adjustments.

  3. I always loved playing Barbies but went through a stage where I felt it necessary to switch heads on my dolls, and on occasionally cut their hair. Can't imagine what that says about me, but I loved my Barbies and had a blast playing with them. Cool post!


  4. LOVED this! Especially love the beautiful feet (I'm too ashamed of mine even for a pedicure!) And I remember making up stuff for my own barbies, furniture out of boxes etc. I actually did have the Barbiee camper, but used it for a collection of little rubber and ceramic animals to live in. I outgrew barbie quickly, much preferred baby dolls. There's a pic of me with a baby carriage for my dolls when I must have been eleven! No girls I know in this generation play with barbies or dolls much past maybe age 5. kind of sad. they really just want an ipad.

  5. Selim - glad to provide a moment of connection. Some years are definitely tougher than others!

    Kathleen - there's just nothing like custom Barbie clothes - sure yours were beautiful!

    Kathy - switching heads - that must have been interesting!

    Sandra - iPads just can't tough a Barbie - no matter what they say! And a full disclaimer - those are NOT my feet, but I sure with they looked like them! :)

  6. Love this - especially the toothpaste box "car." I love how you reconciled your inner with your outer and the false notion of beauty. Self-acceptance is a wonderful thing. Great post. Looking forward to C-Z.

  7. Now Barbie is a topic which I would have not considered, but I enjoyed your post!

  8. As a kid, I always found Barbie to be just a bit too "fancy." I didn't bite off her fingers and toes, but I did smear a bit of dirt on her face to make her more "real" when I was playing with her.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    Suzanne Lieurance

  9. I also inherited some Barbies. Barbie was always losing her head (literally) and Ken's left arm would periodically fall off.

    Then there was Midge. had I the wit to leave Midge alone, she and her flip hairdo might have been quite valuable one day, but I decided to give her a pixie cut. Much like your eating Barbie's fingers and toes, it did not result in a good look.

    Love the idea of you letting yourself NOT be Barbie any more.

  10. Good for you!

    May you continue to be well and at peace with who you are - inside and out!

  11. What a fantastic post. So real. So refreshing. Greetings from a fellow A to Z'er.

  12. My sister and I spent hours and hours with our Barbies too.

    I did change out a few heads ... and cut a few hair dos ... and left most of them barefoot. Hmmm.

  13. barbie brings back so many memories.. and not my own - i just was not a doll collecting kind of girl... it was my son that loved her... :)

  14. So much fun to hear about how others related to their barbie dolls - thanks all!

  15. What did you do with Barbie's fingers and toes, I wonder? Eat them? Throw them in the trash? Bury them in the Barbie body parts cemetary? ;-D

  16. I was always cutting my barbie's hair, and then regretting it later. I love the Bob haircut and wanted my Barbie/s to have them..but once you cut above the shoulder the hair would stick straight out. hehe.

    I'm glad you were able to work through those personal issues. I'm dealing with that kind of thing least with weight/looks etc. It can be tough. :/
    Successfully Underachieving

  17. My daughter loved her Barbie and her daughters love theirs, too. I never liked them. I liked babies.
    I do think Barbie was the beginning of the huge body image problem our children's generation has endured. I don't have it so much and really never suffered much with my outside self being anything more or less than it is, but I had to watch and guide my daughter as best I could through her own issues.
    I'm not sure she isn't still fighting some. Yep, it started with the Barbie. IMHO

    Great post. ♥

  18. @ pam - yep. I ate them. Would like to be able to just blame it on childhood. I don't bite my own nails now - maybe that redeems me? :)
    @Elizabeth - I cut my own bangs today and sometimes get that "sticking straight out look"!
    @Jo - it is tough with today's kids - my son is 23 and I STILL worry about the imprssions he gets and/or got! They do better than we think I believe. :)

  19. I remember getting my first Barbie for Christmas--I was so happy. She was the original issue, with the ponytail and no smile. I liked her face better than the new, smiley one--she looked kind of mysterious and exotic. I got tired of the ponytail, though--I wanted her with long, loose hair, but I couldn't get it out of that knot! I never gave her any furniture--I just loved her clothes, especially the long pink ball gown. I wanted to grow up and have clothes like that. I never did. Good post, Amy.

  20. Lovely post and very touching. Thank you, love MoonWynd

  21. I must havew had a deprived childhood - Barbie wasn't invented when I was a child! On second thoughts, that might not have been a bad thing. I think Jo is right in her comment, that Barbie may have been the start of today's body image problem.

  22. If I only knew growing up--what the market would be on Barbies. I was given a trunk full of 1960's barbies somewhere around 1978 or so. They were all in near mint condition--in original clothing--never played with. Oh yes!! I played with them, cut their hair, painted their faces, gave them tattoos. At one point in the early 80's, my friends and I took a handful of these dolls and popped off their heads, threw them off the sea wall (we lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida) to conduct an experiment... to see if barnacles would grow on Barbie.

    Then I grew up-- and gave the rest away. Later I got a little older and ran into something called Ebay-- and realized I threw a fortune away!! YIKES :)

    Thanks for sharing your Barbie story-- it sure did bring back some memories!!

    Cheers, Jenn

  23. We had similar Barbie experiences...minus the digit buffet you enjoyed...but I had the Barbies in gowns and a homemade car and house...those are great memories...I think the Barbie saying that most effected me was the "Divorce Barbie" she came with all of Ken's stuff...hmmm, makes me now wonder if that bit of humor effected me more than I like to admit...I fought long and hard to make sure I walked away form marriages with nothing but my kids and my clothes...funny how that precious memory of playing with my Barbie in the driveway could make me take a look at some adult behavior that are probably totally disconnected...LOL

  24. "Digit buffet"... oh Kelly you made me laugh right out loud!