Barbie is 58 years old today!
When I was maybe 3 years old, I saw an ad on the back of my morning chocolate milk mix. If I saved however many labels, I could get a free Barbie doll. Now, I drank a LOT of chocolate milk as it was the only way my parents could get me to drink milk. So I knew that it would be easy for me to collect the labels. As we sat over our morning cereal, I told my father that I would like to have the Barbie and he said no. NO!!!! Why not? All I had to do was drink the mix, collect the labels, and the doll would be free. I was SO angry, and not knowing how else to express my anger, I stuck my tongue out at him.
That did not go over well...to say the least.
I loved that doll. She was the Jackie Kennedy version with the short hair.
My grandmother made the most wonderful clothes for her, sweet dresses with matching coats. Sewing in those tiny little sleeves into tiny little armholes was truly a labor of love.
By the time I was 7 years old, a new and improved version of Barbie hit the market. She had bendable legs...WOW!!!! A toy store in my town ran a promotion where if you brought in your old Barbie, they would give you the new and improved version with bendable legs. At the time, I had no thought that this doll would one day have value, all I wanted was a doll with possibilities.
Now here's where the story gets funny...
Remember, all of my Barbie clothes had been made by my grandmother, so there was no way that I would give away something so precious, so I took the clothes off my Barbie and wrapped her in a blanket. After all, I couldn't take a naked Barbie to the toy store!
When I arrived, there was a man behind the counter. Oh horror of horrors!!! I was beyond embarrassed about having to hand this man a naked Barbie. Looking back on the day, the man was no man, but a teenager, but when you're 7, anyone over the age of 16 is an adult to you. So I took a deep breath, unwrapped my doll from the blanket, and handed it to "the man." My embarrassment soon dissipated with the brand new Barbie in my hands. I remember riding home and being intoxicated by the smell of the rubbery plastic, and dreaming of the hours and hours of joy that I would have with this doll.
I have a lot to thank Barbie for. My play time was an escape. Hours would melt away as I played and created scenarios for my dolls. And thanks to my grandmother and her sewing skills, I had wonderful clothes that made me dream of the day that I too would have lovely clothes to wear. I'm still a big fan of ensemble dressing. I love a coat that matches my dress. Now I know where that love was birthed :)
I still have that Barbie, and the clothes, along with a number of the other dolls that were created for the Barbie family. They are packed away along with all the imagination that they at one time set the stage for me to create in my mind. I now know where my love of story was born. So maybe it's time for the dolls and the clothes to be unpacked, released from their captivity and allowed to birth dreams in a new generation.