October 25, 2007

Go Red For Women Barbie

I've always sworn I would never have a Barbie in my home. The idea of their fierce anatomy infiltrating my PG toy box made me cringe. What would I be teaching my daughter if I gave her these dishy dames to play dress up with? A friend gave us the book "Barbie Rapunzel" a few months ago and I made sure to stash it in the back of a closet at my house. I wasn't taking any chances.

But then a series of mishaps. My sewing machine broke. I went to Walmart for the first time in 4 years to get a cheap, new one (sorry, fingerless children in Malaysia!) The store was open until midnight so I got sloppy and began strolling the isles aimlessly. And then there she was. Mattel's American Heart Association Go Red for Women Barbie. She looked as comfortable among the other dolls as Aubry Hepburn at a demolition derby. Then I was holding her. I don't remember even picking up the box. Her chiffon gown was haute couture perfection, her dark berry lips parted slightly in a breath, and luxurious hair tumbled down her slim back. I was 5 years old all over again. She was perfect.

"Too perfect, it's a con," my sensible side told me. "Children should have realistic role models, not WASPy bulimic dolls." I put her crisply back on the shelf.
"You're just saying that because you're jealous!" said my alter-ego, Barbie's defender, and I snapped her up again.
"HELLO! Aren't you the girl who refused to wear dresses as a child? Aren't you the girl who beat up boys in elementary school? Aren't you the girl who collected comics about cyborg ninjas? Put that doll down and come back to your senses."
"No."
"Excuse me?"
"No. I like her. In fact, I love her. Just because I can't be like her doesn't mean she's evil. Besides, I don't see any dolls here that resemble me. They don't sell thunder thighed, pock-mocked, buck toothed dolls at Walmart."
"You'll regret this! She'll be naked in the toy box in no time!"

But I'd stopped listening. I didn't even bother telling her that Go Red Barbie's outfit was not removable. I was beyond the argument. I lay the gorgeous doll safely into my shopping cart and headed for the cash register before someone could stop me for "overage Barbie shopping."

I wasn't a loser in school. But I was never "popular" either. I was happy to float around the fringes of lots of groups and had a small, but terrific group of friends. But I never even attempted talking to the drill team girls. Their beauty totally overwhelmed me and I handled it by avoiding their eyes and skipping pep rallies. Anyone that beautiful had to be evil, right? Right?

So why did I want so badly to be them? Why did I want to be the one the whole school watched at halftime of the football game, strutting around midfield in spandex and gyrating suggestively? I hated what they were doing, but would have given anything to be one of them. Thin, stylish, popular, it sounded so trite but I couldn't get it out of my head.

I hid my admiration of these girls and persisted in my flannels and corduroy throughout high school. If I couldn't be them, I would do my best to be the exact opposite so nobody could accuse me of failing to achieve what they had. I at least succeeded in that. But now, at 28 years old, I can't hide it anymore. Barbie is beautiful. I want her to like me. I want her to be my personal shopper. I want her to come to all my parties. I want her to laugh at my jokes. I've succumbed to her charms. At least until my kid cuts off all her hair and scribbles on her face with Sharpie. Then she'll just be me, poor dear.

31 comments:

kibler said...

my mom did not allow me to have barbie either... Can totally relate... good thing we live far far far away from walmart...

claiborne said...

My mom wouldn't buy me Barbies, but a few of my relatives did. Mom countered by getting me the Heart Family - that lovely doll came with a husband and two kids. I still wanted to just comb her hair and dress her nicely, but apparently I was learning family values as well.
Anyway, at least you caved on such a good charitable Barbie. It's not like you bought a trashy one. She's lovely and she prevents heart disease in women. I dare say it would have been worse NOT to buy her. :)

MommyJ said...

You know what's funny? In my high school, way over here on the other side of the country from where you are, the drill team was um... how to say it nicely? They weren't the "popular" girls, so to speak. Everyone thought they were wannabe cheerleaders, who were the "popular" girls. Either that, or they were just the girlfriends of the band members. Gee whiz. Recalling all of this makes me realize how silly high school was.

As for Barbies, I had them growing and loved them, but have been very cautious about getting them for my own little girl. It's too hard to keep them decently clothed. Have you seen the accesorizing outfits they sell for barbie? "Oh look, dear, Lucy's doll is wearing go go boots and a tube top. Isn't that nice?!"

Adum said...

please tell me you didn't spend $24.95 plus tax on a doll. oh well. i guess we didn't really want our kids to go to college.

Mumsy said...

So you got the sewing macine? So Adum thinks $24.95 us a lot to spend on a doll? Maybe he can write it off as a charitable donation to the American Heart Association!

s'mee said...

My mind is exploding in so many different directions right now.

When I was a kid there were three sisters. One got Barbie, the other got Midge, and guess who got to be Ken? Barbie got all the accessories, Ken? Bupkiss.

When I had little girls, I too, put the hammer down and said "no" to Barbie and all her cool friends and her pink corvette too. My girls got the Heart Family, shout out to claiborne....whoot!

And now, this very morning, I am hearing the cracking of ice as I read Hollywood's account.

Hell hath frozen over.

Colleen said...

You and I would have gotten along fantastically in high school. I remember my brother coming home from school all annoyed with me one day because one of his friends had said that I'd be cute if I ever wore anything besides t-shirts. Add to that combat boots (the ugly fake ones from Payless), flannel shirts, and Converse shoes. I was a hottie alright.

I had a couple of Barbies and it didn't hurt me any. I just gave them to my sister once I'd reached the ripe old age of 12.

tracy m said...

Sarah, you're my freakin' hero.

The Wiz said...

My kids have Barbies. They're Ok so far. I'm sure the bukimia will hit any second now.

The Wiz said...

I mean bulimia.

Jamie J said...

I had Barbies with the spa and the Corvette. I don't feel like I have a distorted view of beauty or anything. I don't know if I'll buy them for my DD though...haven't reached that yet.

Checkers said...

I must say, that Barbie is stunning! I would've bought her too! For charity's sake, of course.

Jenny said...

I had Barbies and I always made Ken and Barbie make out. That explains why by the time I got to high school even though I was low on the totem pole I tried desperately and in vain to be Barbie--and failed miserably.

drainey said...

Not only did I have Barbies, but I played them with none other than Adum himself.

And now $24.95 is too much for his kids to have the same glorious memories?

Melissa said...

We don't have Barbies yet. She's just not interested. I showed her one the other day and she just walked away and said "Look at the horses!"
I played with Barbies. And, I wouldn't say I'm normal, but I don't think that it's Barbie's fault...

Annie said...

"Just because I can't be like her doesn't mean she's evil."


Now all those drill teamers want to be you, Ms. Flake.

Kelly said...

I was on drill team. We weren't cool. We wished we were cheerleaders.

I got barbies the same time we got a puppy. He ate off all their hands and feet, except Ken's, cause he was made of harder stuff. So most of my play consisted of the barbies wearing chewed up clothes and being carried around by still-handsome Ken, who loved them anyway, in spite of their poverty and handicaps.

Nancy Sabina said...

I can totally relate to the "I despise the Drill Team and I want to be them at the same time" syndrome. I am so proud of my daughter for being blonde and having tan-able skin so that she has a shot at being that kind of girl if she wants to. I have dreams of her being the one cheerleader with morals. Popular yet still nice to "the little people". Queen of the school - but in a polite, humble way. Think it'll happen? Me either. But hey, a Mom can dream.
I'm a little embarassed to have admitted that - but most of your readers have no idea who I am, so what the hey.

Rachel said...

I also said no Barbies for my girls. Then we started to toilet train, and all my morals went out the window. My daughter is now the proud owner of Cinderella Barbie. And now she and her one-year-old sister constantly fight over Barbie. Fun times. I hope your girls love heart disease Barbie. Who wouldn't?

Suzie Petunia said...

I guess we can never really be friends. I look JUST LIKE Barbie.

compulsive writer said...

Oh my. You could have been writing that post right out of my life.

bill said...

hi rasand. honestly, when i saw that barbie? i thought it looked like you!

Ang said...

I used to be anti-Barbie until I suddenly had nieces in my life. Now I want to have a daughter of my own just so I can buy Barbie stuff without looking like one of those sad doll ladies.

I guess it isn't just Barbie that I want to buy. I want to get those cute baby dolls with the miniature stoller and pack and play. Or a cute little kitchen.

Could it be that I NEVER grew up and I am a 5 year old trapped in the body of a 34 year old?!?!?

Marilee said...

Um, my kid did cut off all her hair. At least she's 3...and the Sharpies were out of reach (that day).

Drill team chicks want to be as cool and self-confident as the babes in flannel and chucks.

Rachelle said...

Oh my,
This may be my favorite post of all time!
I did exactly the same thing, only mine was a sexy, long haired island Barbie with a Mackie dress to die for.
Then came my daughter's 6th birthday, and we were in a private preschool. Everything, and I m ean everything she got (and she made out like a BANDIT) was Barbie.

I put away the shot gun and gave up.

How are you doing with all the smoke, is it about gone there?
Now it is up here, so maybe we swapped? :))
Thinking of you..
Rachelle

Sue said...

Yeah, I said no barbies.

(We have 26.)

Samantha said...

I hate when companies sell something and claim it's helping charity. They may be giving some of that money to charity but let's be honest. They're just trying to sell stuff still, and they COULD give a heck of a lot more.

As far as barbies go, I have worried about that stuff too. Positive body image and all. When I was little and played with barbies, which I did all the time, I think (maybe due to my mom talking to me about it but I don't remember that) I just knew that she was a doll and not a real person. I don't think it ever occured to me that I "should" look like her - she was a doll. Why would her body look like a real person's? She's a foot tall doll. I was bigger than a foot tall. Totally different. I didn't think I "should" look like the boxy babydolls I had either...same thing. It's all about the kid knowing the difference between fantasy / play and reality I guess.

I also organized my dolls into families too. So the family values thing - I guess I put that onto my toys naturally? My point is I think kids do that naturally. Or with the help of good parenting which I was fortunate enough to have, and I hope to be able to continue with my baby.

I think what matters with body image with girls is what you say to them. If you tell them they are chubby or need makeup or whatever, that matters. Also what they see on TV and in magazines, b/c those are real girls.

And that Barbie you bought is Saucy (notice capital S!) and lovely!

Catherine M. said...

I still don't like Barbies. In fact, as soon as they've been in the bathtub for more than a month its straight to the trash. Right now, the mermadia barbie is in the tub. She doesn't get naked per se, but is even skinnier and scarier than usual. Barbies are so immodest, and the kids absolutely pick up on it.

We're pretty sheltered around here.

I do like the Barbie movies though. They have a sweet quality to them that the kids really enjoy.

As a kiddo, I loved to dress dolls, but I still have guilty memories of how perverted my friends and I were during Ken and Barbie's makeouts.

I also never for a moment wanted to be a drillteamer or a cheerleader. I did get made fun of at HPHS for wearing so many tee shirts

Catherine M. said...

Full disclosure... I do actually like one set of Barbies. A few years ago they came out with the "happy family" barbies. The doll has a pregnant belly connected with magnets that holds a tiny baby dolly that is born wearing a diaper. She has a husband and parents who all wear wedding rings. The grandparents have pooches and wrinkles and glasses. These dolls are great. I've thrown away the ones who've been dismembered and kept the preggers doll.

I still hate Mattel though, they took the doll off the market because they decided it was too scandalous and that girls shouldn't want to be pregnant... Whatever

Mommy d said...

I think we could never be friends my kids love Barbie and i did too.

Cheena said...

I love Barbies. What's with all the fuss that she can turn little girls into growing up bulimic or getting pregnant? Mattel is toooo paranoid that they forgot that she's just a toy doll. Now when Bratz came out (which beat out Barbie in sales), I dont think girls would ever hope to have such big heads.