In the 80s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper. I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms: 1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers. For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past. I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material. But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change. Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your Scrunchie and welcome to the 80s.
There wasn’t a time in my life when I didn’t have a Barbie. And there was never a time I didn’t admire her from Bob Mackie Barbie to Scarlett O’Hara Barbie. But for my granddaughter, there is no Barbie. Not because Barbie is a bad role model, not because Barbie has large breasts. It’s because of Elsa. A lot of Elsa: tall Elsa, small Elsa, the Elsa dress, the Elsa lunch box. In this family, when it’s not about Cars, it’s about Elsa.
Barbie has succumbed to politically correct thinking since I played with one as a child. It is possible to purchase a curvy Barbie, a tall Barbie, a smaller chest Barbie. A noble effort. I don’t have the stats on the sales, but I would imagine that little girls still gravitate towards the inscrutable original. The Barbie with the better tan. The Barbie with the pink house. The Barbie with tiny high heel shoes.
Her purpose is to not be real. Play is not real. Barbie is a grown up, and as such, can do anything she wants. Remember that idea? That you will be able to to be anything and everything you want? It’s as real as creating a whole castle made of ice in the course of a single song.
But if we don’t dream, how barren and tragic our lives would be.
I don’t know about you, but I read countless articles about capturing the sense of play in your (our, my) life. Be spontaneous, play like a child! But that only works if you did play like a child. If you did dress up Barbie in a handkerchief or old doilies left from Valentine’s Day and paraded her down the aisle to get married – groom optional. Or walked her down the cat walk for her fashion show. Or stuffed she and her friend Skipper into her pink car and drove them both off the bed.
Parents seem to work very hard to make sure everything in their child’s life is reality based. A noble attempt, but eliminating play is not the answer. How can we return to our playful selves if as children we were handed a doll with small breasts and thick ankles and told, this is Insurance Adjustor Barbie, pretend she is commuting to her cubical.
Barbie is well into her sixties. She endures. I hope she resists this more recent attempt to make her relevant and more real. She’s not real. It’s not even the point.
I hope there are hundreds of little girls insisting that like Elsa, their Barbie can make ice castles. Seems fair. Seems real enough.