Saturday, February 21, 2009
The Question of Barbie
The look of pure bliss spread across her face as she pulled it from a just acquired hand-me-down little girl purse. There in her pudgy little toddler hand was a very tired Barbie...shirt torn, revealing one plastic boob, hair looking like Ken had roughed her up the night before... My first instinct was to snatch it from her fingers, to deny her this unreal image of womanhood. But I just couldn’t...I could see that in the few seconds she had spent staring into the blank plastic eyes of the doll—there was already a bond.
It was love at first sight.
I know mothers often struggle with the idea of toy guns, but for me it was Barbie. Like a mother whose child has a peanut allergy, I had warned friends and family that we were not a Barbie household...I was always very clear about a no Barbie rule. How could I, a mother who I had spent months choosing a name for my daughter to reflect wisdom, strength and grace, allow this piece of plastic to take over a part of The Beast’s perception of the world?
Well...as any feminist mother will tell you --Barbies just happen...and as ANY mother will tell you....Barbies also multiply. Soon after the first Barbie incident, two more Barbies found their way into the Beast’s loving hands.
Lingering in my favorite thrift shop one lazy Saturday afternoon The Beast pulled from a lower shelf a large plastic box. The box opened to reveal what can only be described as some 1980’s bordello—flashing disco lights, a two sofas that could be pushed into a round bed and a lighted aquarium that popped up from the flashing multi-colored tile dance floor. On the floor of this disco palace lay two Barbies circa 1980...big hair, short skirts and plastic leather jackets—I have to admit that I was just as enthralled by the whole scene as was my daughter—but for different reasons. While I was scanning the miniature room for signs of tiny single edge razors and rolled hundreds...
My daughter closed the plastic case and clutched it to her chest.
“We are NOT bringing home that Barbie bordello.” I told The Beast is my quiet, but firm mother tone attempting to dislodge garish pink box from her monster grip.
“Barbie Dello! Barbie Dello!” The Beast pleaded.
We were by the check-out desk where two grandmotherly looking volunteers sat watching the scene. “Oh...the little girl wants the Barbie farm.”
“We are on a budget.” I explained
“Nonsense—how about $1?” said one with a warm smile.
“Wonderful.” I said...once again defeated by Barbie.
Of course the Barbie Bordello opened the flood gates--soon there were Barbie presents: the Barbie farm with the pigs with long lashes and blue eye shadow, the Jeeps, the vans, the Barbie jumbo jet, the My Size Barbie....the “marine biologist” Barbie in a bikini...some friend was obviously trying to be nice to me.
It was just a matter of time before the whole house looked like some lesbian prostitution ring had moved in with Barbies lingering in every dark corner in seductive poses with disheveled outfits falling off them.
Barbie had a her hey-day at our house, but she slowly started to vanish to the attic...occasionally a large box of Barbie stuff might be bumped down the attics stairs for a rainy day of play, but she was replaced by the American Girl Doll, Harry Potter, and now Twilight....makes me ALMOST nostalgic for the Barbie days.
Of course, until Ms. PR called last week, flushed with excitement....”Barbie’s 50th Anniversary! Bloomingdales! Let’s go!”
“Helllllo...Remember? I was the mother who did not like Barbies?” Trying to pull Ms. PR out of her girly frenzy.
“Well...it is not just about Barbie...it is the whole cultural subset of society that is being examined with a Marxist filter on consumerism.” she said in her best PR spin. “and all those cute little outfits!” she said unable to contain herself.
Barbie did not win this one.