Here’s the truth, as a child of the 90s. I loved Barbie. I had a large pink trunk in my room… It was filled with Barbies. I would spend entire summers with my cousin (who lived a few houses down) and my neighborhood girl friends… playing with Barbies. We had all the clothes, all the dolls, we had the houses, the furniture, the cars, the horses, everything you could possibly think of. Between all of us, we possibly had the entire Barbie line up. And we played with those dolls, hard. We even made movies with the dolls! Barbie was possibly the most used toy in my childhood. She was a huge part of my childhood. There’s no denying that.
A quick Google Search got me reminiscing with this post. Come on, that mermaid was badass!
And the Kelly with the toilet? Classic…
Reevaluating Barbie as a Mother
Time goes on and out of that group of friends, I am, so far, the only one with children. And I happen to have 2 daughters. Despite the wonderfully fond memories of playing with Barbie dolls, I had refused to purchase a single Barbie doll for them. I practically banned them from my home. The only ones sneaking into my toy bins were gifted, and even those were few.
You see, as the vail of innocence starts to lift. You begin to look at your childhood in new light. You look at your toys and pastimes from the perspective of an adult. When the time comes and you have your own children to raise and mold, you wonder what things are best not to be repeated.
The classic Barbie doll was not the ideal toy I wanted for my daughters. Not only has her face been recently plastered with excessive make up and ever skimpier out fits (a doll trend I will never understand). But the doll itself brought many questions.
Barbie had become unanimous with the “ideal figure” for women and the impossible beauty standards girls are being raised with. Barbie was tall, with extra long legs, has perky breast, a tiny waste, impossibly tiny feet which are shaped for only healed shoes, she even has perfect abs, completely with slight muscle definition.
That Time Barbie Looked Different
Needless to say that critical eyes saw only one thing. A doll that was shattering self esteem and fueling self questioning, doubt and shame for young girls. Not only that, but the lack in of ethnic diversity was also blatant. As a girl growing up in Puerto Rico, I can assure you, no one I knew looked remotely like the classic white, blue eyed, blond Barbie. I remember when a new line of Barbie, featuring a brunette and a black doll with an afro came out. I wanted the doll with the afro. I remember getting some odd looks at my request, sparking a deep introspection on racism when I later looked back upon those reactions. But regrdless, I was gifted the black doll, and I thought she was the most beautiful doll in my collection. I’m not entirely certain why I felt this way. After all I was tan, but not black, I had messy somewhat curly hair, but not an afro. So why the sense of joy and connection with this doll?
She was different. Even my young eyes could see it. She was nothing like all the other dolls I had seen before. She wasn’t an after thought type doll. She was well designed, with super cute clothes and accessories. She didn’t feel like “just Barbie’s friend” but a really cool individual in it of herself. After a frustrating search online, I finally found the doll…
Her name was Nichelle, and the was a Generation Girl.
Anyone Remember this?
Or maybe this?
It was 1999 and I was 11 years old… This would be the last time “doll play” would really be a thing and this doll was certainly one of the last “toys” I would as my parents for.
Come on… She’s amazing! Look at that face!!
A Little Sprinkled on Ethnic Diversity Isn’t Enough
But after I “grew up” and left all my toys behind, a deep sense of frustration with Barbie took hold. I resented them. The representation of the female body was simply too distorted for me to tolerate and the limited diversity in general was annoying at best. That frustration grew into rejection, and as my oldest daughter became more ready for Barbie dolls I found myself strongly avoiding them regardless.
Then this commercial came out…
Sure… It was a great sentiment. And I felt good watching it and seeing where the company was trying to go. But it wasn’t enough for me. It was still the same doll, pushing the same distorted female body. I shrugged it off as marketing and moved along.
Was Barbie in Mid Transformation?
One day… I was browsing the doll isle and one particular face caught my eye. I had never seen this Barbie Doll before… But this was in fact, Nikki, Barbie’s Official Black Friend. Her face mold had been updated in 2010. While the doll has obviously been in circulation for a while it wasn’t until recently that I have seen her popping up… And to my great surprise, I immediately grabbed her and payed for my first Barbie doll. Once again, I couldn’t resist the new (to me), unique, and authentic looking face mold.
So yes, yes I know, this doll is old news to pretty much everyone except me (2010? that’s… 6 years now.. WOW) But it did strike me as an effort to offer some variety in the face of Barbie and not just some “special collection” but its main line.
Barbie Finally Evolves
But nothing could bring me so much excitement as this week’s announcement of the NEW Barbies! Which are already available for purchase. I won’t lie. I saw this video and I could hardly believe it.
Here she is, the long awaited REALISTIC LOOKING Barbie. The classic doll line is finally expanding to include more than one body type and jumping on the body positive bandwagon. And while the cynics will point out that they “had no other option” I don’t see any other mayor companies selling Curvy dolls.
I would love to see the original Barbie doll adapted to more modern times, maybe re examine those proportions just a tag, huh? But in the mean time, I’m celebrating the new dolls.
So cheers, Barbie! You’ve earned a place in my shopping cart. And just in time as my oldest is about the turn 5, and she really does enjoy the 12inch doll size. Petite Barbie?! Oh yesssss…
The Evolution of BarbieEin Blick hinter die Kulissen, um die Quelle unserer Inspiration und das Team, dem dies zu verdanken ist, kennenzulernen. Weitere Informationen unter Barbie.com. #TheDollEvolves #BarbieEvolution
So I’m one of those weirdos who check’s craiglist pretty much every day for fun finds… And low and behold, another reasonably priced Dolly caught my eye.
This is Nicki Poor Nicki was sold to me naked. So we will be on the search for her original meet outfit, but for now Ariel has been sharing her clothes. She’s so nice.
Nicki also has very very dry hair. So today I figured I would play dolly hair salon and give her hair a wash and conditioning to see if that helped her out a little. And I figured I would share the results of my first try.
Here are her before pictures. As you can see, the doll is lovely, but her hair is unfortunately very dry and frizzy.
So what I did was wrap her up in a towel and washed her hair in the sink. I was careful not to get her wig cap wet. And just massaged shampoo into the ends of her hair. Rinsed and did the same with conditioner. I didn’t feel much of a difference so I decided to condition twice, and the second time I left it on for a while longer. So after about 15 minutes I rises again.
Then I put in a leave in conditioner into the ends of the hair and brushed small sections of hair. You could easily tell which way her curls wanted to go, so I just twisted in that direction, the hair would just bounce back into a nice curl, so I gathered it up trying to keep the shape it had formed and pinned it with hair clips. Once her whole head was done we just waited.
Aww… She looked so adorable HA!
When I couldn’t stand it any longer (2hours) I decided to take out the clips. Her hair was still a bit damp in some places, so I guess I really should have given it another hour or so…
But here she is! Her hair still feels quite dry to be honest. And I may try something else in the near future as I keep trying to improve her condition. But for now, I’m pretty happy. She looks lovely.
And a little side by side Before and After:
*** I am sharing what I did with my doll FOR FUN! These are not instructions on what you should or shouldn’t do. You’ve been warned!***
This weird thing happened when I laid my eyes on my old American Girl doll last year while visiting my family… Her little face looked just as I remembered, I felt a blush of shame as I touched her trimmed hair. Yes, I gave my doll a hair cut, whoops. Her outfit still intact. She had lived on my mother’s mantel for quite a few years. For a long time I kind of rolled my eyes at her the way a newly blossomed young miss does at all her old “toys”. But this year, for the first time I looked at her and realized, I was about to become a child myself again. I grabbed her, brushed her hair with my fingers, and hurried to show her to my daughter, Little Lue, who at the time was just over the age of 2.
Her eyes light up as she reached for the doll, and she attempted to grab her by her hand as she would a playmate. And of course, my poor doll was dragged around by one arm as her body awkwardly flopped around. My daughter made exaggerated struggling sounds as if she were trying to carry a cinder block around. Obviously, she was still much too young to play with my old Josefina.
After that visit, I asked my mother to mail me my doll. Josefina would then adorn Little Lue’s room… Much as she did in my mother’s home. But this time, this time I would look at her with the eagerness of a child waiting for Christmas. I knew Little Lue would soon be making that leap that often comes at 3 years of age where they are suddenly so much more incredibly child like.
And between pregnancy and a new baby and temporarily moving to Florida and Christmas and… Wow! How did all that happen so fast?!
Well between all that Little Lue has indeed grown.
And then… The giant Facebook marketing train ran me over LOL!!!
FB started flashing on the top of my screen that an American Girl store was opening in Orlando. A measly 1 hour drive from where we are staying. And damn it all to hell… I had to go.
Memories of me and my neighbor, who had quite the collection, started swimming around in my head. I cursed the fact that I had no way to retrieve my Josefina, who is still waiting patiently for our return. Little Lue will be nearly four once we return.
So we went. With Christmas in the air, we visited the store and walked out with some Bitty Twins and accesorries.
And something kind of magical unfolded. Little Lue had never really shown much interest in dolls… Heck she rarely shows much interest in anything… But she had started to play pretend, coming up with her own stories and games and she had shown some immensely motherly instincts towards her new sister. I knew she would enjoy a doll in a way she hadn’t before… And perhaps most importantly… I wanted to play with the dolls.
Perhaps Little Lue wasn’t enchanted by the adorable little faces as I was, but she was ecstatic at me playing pretend with her. She wanted me to make the voices for her new dolls, make them dance, make them sing, make them eat, and run, and play. And it was incredibly easy for me to enjoy myself doing so.
I would find myself brushing the doll’s delicate hair and styling it, changing their tiny clothes…
But I digress.
The point is… These dolls have a small amount of magic in them. They made me time travel to memories long forgotten. They made me feel like a little girl again. They made me want to be a little girl again. And they made me realize that I have a little girl now. Not a baby, or a toddler, but rather a full blown child, a tiny person, a kid.
Goodness where did the time go?
When did I wake up and stop playing pretend?
When did I wake up and become a mother?
And suddenly it’s my own daughter who has just blossomed into that magical time… childhood.
And in this day and age where dolls are made to look like… well… this…
And (for variety?) this…
And, of course, this…
(I was quite the Barbie lover myself as a kid, but as an adult, it’s difficult to bring myself to look at them as fondly as I once did.)
And then there’s the American Girls…
Just look at them! Not even a hint of puberty on them.
I have become enamored at the beautiful child like faces of these dolls. Dolls that look like little girls. Dolls that do little girl things. Dolls that are beautiful without a face plastered full of make up, or wearing questionable clothing choices.
Somehow between my nostalgia and my new found apreciaton for the doll line, I found myself falling down that rabbit hole that is American Girl. And I’m ok with that!
I’ve yet to be reunited with my Josefina, who I’m excited to reclaim and share with my daughter now that she is old enough to get it. I’ve also slowly acquired a few Craigslist finds (did I mention the rabbit hole?). A Bitty Baby for the Littlest Princess, who I must confess seems to like dolls more than I thought infants could like dolls.
And just this week, I couldn’t help myself when we saw this sweet dolly up for sale…
I was hoping my Josefina would end up being Lue’s first “big girl doll”, but let’s face it, I suck at waiting.
As we were getting in the car to go pick her up I showed her to Little Lue and asked her what her name should be. She immediately decided her name was Ariel.
Much to our stuffed Donatello’s dismay, Ariel has been toted around ever since she arrived. Her hair silky smooth as if she were brand new and her clothes that can only be described as a late 90’s explosion (Hello long jean skirt with cargo pockets! HA!), but she’s just gorgeous and endearing. I can’t help but smile at the sight of Little Lue clutching Ariel to her chest, telling me how she needs her shoes and jacket to go out.