Barbie! And Me (and You): A Giveaway Too!

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Menopause shocked me. How could so many years go by that fast? Even more shocking is that my Barbie would be well into menopause now too. Wow.

I found her under the tree Christmas morning of second grade, along with a bright red case. And Ken!

When I opened the case a few weeks ago, the years vanished. My favorite dress.

Another favorite. When my girls got into Barbies, I noted right away that the Barbie clothes of my generation were better made and more generously cut.

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Here’s Barbie’s babysitting apron. I hated babysitting. Not sure the apron influenced me.

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I tried my hand at candystriping later on and wasn’t a fan of nursing either. Barbie’s nursing cape and cap didn’t convince me.

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And that gets to the point that many argue about the doll: Does Barbie influence girls?. Does  her fab figure make young women feel they need the same shape?

I’ve pondered the impression Barbie made on my body image. I wasn’t a kid who was anxious for makeup. Bras. Periods. Perhaps that’s why skinny Barbie and the world she lived in left little mark on me. (But clothes and fashion magazines most likely did, as I’ve faced body/weight issues like most of us have.)

And here’s Ken. I don’t remember giving him much thought in terms of future boyfriends. Cliff though, happens to have a raincoat very much like Ken’s. Does that count?

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Barbie and Ken both came with tennis outfits. I ended up loving tennis, so perhaps that’s where Barbie influenced me the most.

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Bravo to Mattel for letting Barbie take on a multitude of careers over the years and for introducing Barbies in many ethnicities. 

Here’s more news. Time Magazine announced in a recent article: “For 57 years, the world’s most famous doll has been stick thin, setting an  unrealistic–and studies show, damaging–beauty standard for generations of young women. That all changed in January (2016) when Mattel, faced with slumping sales, decided to make Barbie look more like the girls who play with her.” Barbie now comes in three new body shapes–petite, tall, and curvy.

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My great-aunt and grandma called me “Barbie” when I was little, not because of the doll but because Barbara is my name. That still didn’t make me relate to Barbie any better. I never loved her like I loved my baby dolls. But opening the case a few weeks ago and studying her face, her figure, her clothes and accessories, and her boyfriend Ken made me so happy I saved them all these years. That’s love, isn’t it?

What about you? Were you a Barbie girl? Did she affect your thinking in any way?

For some more Barbie blasts from the past, check out this Etsy site.

Giveaway: I’m giving away a curvy Barbie. For a chance to win, please enter a comment by February 1. The dress is a nod to the sixties. Maybe the shoes are too!

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29 responses »

  1. I was a huge Barbie fan…my Mom used to make all my Barbie clothes using the same material she would use sewing my clothes. My cousin and I would play for hours with our Barbie dolls; we had Ken and all the other dolls too. I didn’t get to pass mine on…my Mom was not a keeper of things and I had two boys, no girls!! but now I buy and get to play Barbie with my granddaughters!!

  2. I had a Barbie but liked most of my other dolls much better. I never identified with Barbie. She always looked odd to me. Seems as if I have a related doll; did she have a baby sister?

  3. Loved Barbie ( Ken-Midge-Skipper)…. those were the days!
    I do own the above minus the Nurse apparel ( wish I had as I was a Candy stripper and a Nurse).
    I don’t much care for the ” new” line. Curvy Barbie for me. No- I am certainly not swayed by opinion of others or “PC “thinking—- and never social media.

  4. I will be getting my first grand baby this summer and plan on babysitting . I have my old barbies and clothes , but would love the new curvy Barbie for my new grand baby to play with . I didn’t even know about her until today , reading your blog (I am a subscriber ) please consider me for this new Barbie . Thank you ,

  5. I had Barbie and Ken and my Mom made lots of clothes for them. I loved dolls but was always a baby doll girl. So one day while at a friend’s house, I sold my Barbie, Ken and case with clothes to my friend Sue for $10! I don’t remember my Mom saying anything to me about it. She didn’t like them either and I think she was glad she didn’t have to make anymore little clothes.

  6. I loved my Barbies — even had those two dresses pictured in your first image. I had the original blonde ponytail/black-white striped swimsuit doll and also the one with 3 wigs. And a nice black patent case. Alas, my mother gave everything away to my younger cousin, saying I was too old to play with dolls. I still mourn the fact that I don’t have those dolls today — collector’s items!

    I don’t remember thinking twice about Barbie’s body size/shape. She was a doll, a toy, and not really meant to resemble real people. Still, I’m glad they’re making different body types now since there is much more body image pressure on girls today.

  7. I still have a Barbie dollhouse that my grandfather built for me when my mom was pregnant – I was his first granddaughter, and he was so excited that he couldn’t wait. He passed when I was only 8, so it’s still such a special piece for me. Barbies will always hold very cherished memories for me!

  8. I remember the black-white striped swimsuit, and my Barbie having this swimsuit, but mine was apparently a slightly later version of this (probably around 1962 or so), and had a more bouffant hair style, rather than a ponytail, kind of like the Barbie in Barbara’s picture above. I loved Barbie. Didn’t really care about her figure, per se (very far from anything that I would have ever anticipated achieving in even my wildest pre-puberty dreams). It was just that I loved buying each new outfit for her! I would work hard doing extra chores around the house to get each new outfit complete with shoes and accessories. Don’t remember the clothes above (except for the nurses outfit)! I will confess that I WAS anticipating all of the “feminine” things like makeup, dating (but, like Haralee above, though, I liked Poindexter! Much more interesting to me than Ken) So, in this “striving for the feminine mode” I was in, the “Barbie bride dress” was the grand prize! I worked extra hard around the house to achieve this one. But, all of the women who have been high achievers in graduate school that I have known, have never shared my perspective. They have been more inclined toward a more “tomboyish” perspective, I think. Doubt they really liked Barbie that much. But, count me out on the giveaway. I will treasure the memories of that time, instead!

  9. I have 2 girls, 4&5 and I do in home daycare. One of my favorite parts of the day is listening to all the pretend play they are doing through their dolls. The language skills and problem solving skills are amazing!

  10. I had Barbie, but Skipper was my absolute favorite! I played with them for years, even had a Barbie ski house. I never thought about Barbie’s shape at all – she was just a toy.

  11. I was a Barbie addict. Had 4 dolls, Ken, Midge and don’t remember who else. We made a lot of the clothes and had a babysitter who made them for us. My daughter had one and never played with it and I don’t think my grand-daughter would either. She’s not a doll person. I admire that Mattel has embraced diversity (as has American Girl dolls). I’ll pass on the giveaway.

  12. Fun post to read. My mother got me started on paper dolls and clothes first, and then the world of Barbie opened up. My girl friends and I played for hours together but as I recall no one wanted to be Ken or the other guys dolls. We all liked the glitzy gowns the best for Barbie.

    • Yes! One of the glitzy gowns I had bought for my Barbie, and remember the most really, was Barbie’s nightclub singer outfit, a sleek, shiny, form-fitting black dress, that when I googled it, came right up online – just the one I remembered!

  13. I loved and still love Barbie! I have all of my Barbies, unfortunately my very first one I decided to restyle her hair (cut!). My sister and I both collect the Hallmark Barbie Ornaments for our special Barbie Christmas Trees! This is one toy that has withstood the test of time, and glad that Mattel is changing along with the times.

  14. Can’t turn down a chance for a free Barbie! By the way, I never had one. My sister passed hers down to me, I think, because I did have a chance to “style” her silky black hair–a French twist, held in place with straight pins that stuck in her head easily (different plastic back then).
    Janet

  15. My sister and I cherished our Barbies and their friends: Midge, Allan, Ken and Tutti! We made clothes and worlds for them that came rushing back when I opened their cases this holiday season. Thank you Barbara for the reminder! Barbie was always self-confident and optimistic for me, could be her great posture! That, and the roller/ice skates that could go with any outfit-be it opera gown or fancy nightie. This blog led to some hilarious party conversation last night and wish for ‘us gals’ to wear Barbie’s gold lame Go-go jacket, dress and boots, wow-the wardrobe memories.

  16. Oh my goodness! My great-grandmother sewed all of my mother’s Barbie doll clothes, which of course got passed down to me and my sister. They were so much fun, and different from what all of our friends had. I had blonde hair growing up (and a real life blonde-haired Aunt Barbie, also short for Barbara), so Barbie was really relatable as a child. But this is a cool change from Mattel!

  17. I had Midge and Ken. I still have my daughters’ Barbie and clothes in the attic waiting until my 5 year old granddaughter shows an interest.

  18. I’m with Wendy (above comment) on this, it was nice to bring Barbie back and remember the fun I had dressing her, shoes and purse, doll house someplace down the line too, and just playing on a rainy day with dolls and dreaming. It was good for me. Thanks Barbara for saving yours! Mine went who knows where. . .along with my baseball cards and Beatles posters and record albums. I just didn’t hang on to the stuff of my youth!

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