I got my first Barbie when I was 5 or 6. I adored her.
This was the beginning of my love for clothes.
I loved her beautifully made clothing with teensy zippers and snaps. I loved her tiny little open-toed pumps. I loved her little purses. I loved her long ponytail.
I know some people feel that Barbie’s unrealistic body shape had a negative influence on girls, I never felt that way. I never expected to have a body like Barbie. I never expected to meet anyone with a body like Barbie. Back then, runway models were bone-thin and flat chested. That had more of a negative impact on my body image than Barbie ever did.
Besides trying to figure out as much as I could about sex when using dolls with no genitals and no bendable joints, my Barbie was my little mannequin.
I did not dress her up for dates or jobs or going out.
I made up stories in my head about everything – except Barbie.
Her sole purpose was to wear beautiful clothes – and for me to create new “looks” with her clothes and with the scarves and pieces of fabric that I would wrap around her to make tops and dresses and skirts.
I never actually sewed or knitted or crocheted outfits for my Barbies. I merely used what I had at hand to make outfits.
Actually, in my 30s, I did crochet a couple outfits for my Barbie (I was down to one by that point – a Malibu Barbie that my brother Chick had given me when I was 18 and he was 7 – it was the first present that my folks let him pick out on his own – and I still have it). The patterns were “Southern Belle” kind of gowns with great big skirts. You were supposed to crochet a big thing to go under the skirt (it was like a big stuffed donut pillow that the dolls legs went through the middle and the skirt laid over) – but that was more work than I was willing to put into it – instead I just took an old (small) lampshade and it worked just as well.
I now have a collection of Barbies – the only original being the aforementioned Malibu Barbie – the others are either gifts (mint condition, never removed from the box) or reproductions of some of my favorite outfits. They sit on top of my cabinets, most in their boxes, under protective cases.
I wonder what I should do with them. I’m sure (okay, I hope) someone might appreciate them. Maybe one of my grandnieces will take them off my hands after I move back to Michigan.
Meanwhile, there sits (okay, stands) my favorite fashion icon – gathering dust; much like this fat old lady.