Monday, March 9, 2009
There's really only one subject to talk about today even if by now you're sick to death of hearing about it in every newspaper, every news program and at every water cooler. Today as you know is Barbie's 50th birthday (damn!, even she is younger than me!). Barbara Millicent Roberts came into my life in 1962. Santa delivered her personally and I'll never forget the thrill......and disappointment. For a brief period around that time, Barbie's hair (hmmm, beginning to think I have a bit of a hair obsession - see blog from March 2) was short. (see image above) That's right, my first Barbie had short reddish tight curly hair. It could not be styled, combed or changed in any way shape or form. I hated her hair. Whilst my friend's could comb, braid, twist and pin their Barbie's locks, the only option I had was hats. Despite her less than perfect coif, I loved her. Unlike my own daughter who I swear got a new and different Barbie every month for a period of 5 years (that's 120 little shoes sucked up the vacuum hose for those who are counting), I had one Barbie. My next door neighbour had Barbie, Midge, Ken, Allen and Skipper. She was spoiled rotten - everyone said so. Santa must have pitied me at some point, because eventually I got Barbie's friend; long-haired brunette Francie two years later and a case that had slots for 2 dolls, a closet with a rod, hangars and two shoe drawers - I think Santa got a raise. For a long time I was content, until the day a younger cousin of mine came to visit one weekend. Looking back, she was really too young to play with Barbie, her little toddler fingers unable to manoeuvre the clothing changes and definitely too young to respect what she meant to me. She grabbed my precious naked girl by the ankles and started tearing around the house smacking her on every hard surface in sight. By the time I rescued her, it was too late. Her once perfect breasts were no longer a matching pair. One of them now sported a concave nipple. I was horrified. She could no longer wear the skin tight tops and dresses (meticulously hand sewn by my mother) without one side of her chest looking all puckery and ill-fitting. I now owned "mastectomy Barbie" without even realizing it! After that day, I began to favour Francie with her perfect, perky upstanding set. And besides, she also had soft bendy legs, unlike her friend with her hard inflexible body. Another neighbourhood friend used to set up a Barbie swimming pool (her mother would fill one of those large corrugated steel tubs with water in the backyard) Several of us would bring our Barbie cases over to her house for a pool party, but I would never pull out short-haired Barbie at these events. She would remain in her case, hiding in shame with her banged-up boob. No bikini for her. Francie would steal the show instead. When my neighbour with the assortment of dolls was feeling generous, she would allow me to play with Skipper - that would just make my day. It was easier to imagine being Barbie's little sister Skipper one day - she was about 12 I think - without any boobs and looked more like us (minus the perfect shiny waist-length shimmering blond hair). Years later, a real live Skipper (aka Marsha Brady) would take over as my top idol wanna-be, but that's getting off topic. When I became older and disinterested in playing with Barbie and Francie, I still kept them tucked away in the back of my closet for several years. I recall using the shoe drawer as a hiding place for coins I saved up to buy my mom a cuckoo clock from the Consumer's Distributing catalogue for Christmas in 1968 (bet she just loved that one!). Eventually the case and all of it's contents was passed along to a little cousin never to be seen again in my lifetime. No matter - I remember my two dolls well. I have forgotten most of the clothing with the exception of one dress my mother made. It was a form-fitting, emerald green woolen number with a faux leopard fur collar that was such a bitch to squeeze on and off, but man-oh-man once it was on - my short-haired Barbie was (in the words of Paris Hilton) HOT, even with her less than ideal chest. So - here's to you Babs on your 50th! Just ignore all the "cougar barbie" insults. We gals in our 6th decade don't need to be putting each other down. We need to be raising each other up - imperfect parts and all!