Defiant? Hell yeah!
Heh heh...that's me...um yeah...no.
I'm talking about that eternally youthful gorgeous gal. Barbie.
Yes, that's her. The doll. Brainchild of Ruth Handler.
And I love her. There. I said it. I admit it. My name is Kate and I love Barbie. Always have. I'm not ashamed.
Those who know me know of my doll obsession. I have a room filled with my dolls. And I have the best husband who indulges me with my guilty pleasure.
I'm a Barbie girl.
Since I was just a toddler, playing with my older sisters' dolls. I knew I had to have one. Santa granted my request one Christmas and I became the proud owner of my first fashion doll. The bubble-cut version. The next doll was a long haired curvaceous blonde with bendable legs. But something was missing. What every sassy, fun-loving girl needed: a boyfriend.
Along came Ken. Talking Ken. ("Put some records on and let's dance!") In his mod bathing suit! Whoa! I was in heaven! That is until my best friend's brother and his friend decided it was real funny to mess with Barbie's sexy man and broke his head off. Ken never talked again (well, except for when no one was looking and he had a decidedly feminine sounding voice...what can I say? I had quite an imagination).
And then came Christie. The first African American doll in the Barbie family. She was beautiful. I begged and pleaded. My poor beleaguered mother gave in and on my 8th birthday Christie became mine. She took her place besides her blonde bimbo BFF and decapitated boyfriend. (Yes, they shared...I was a very progressive young lass.)
From that point on, I wanted the exotic dolls. The ones that were totally opposite of my insular little white world. The ones that were so outside my little life on the farm, they had me mesmerized. I became enamored with fashion. I longingly eyed the beautiful outfits in the Sears toy catalog and on the shelves of the local department store. My talented mom took it upon herself to teach herself how to make creative and beautiful outfits for Barbie and her friends. Our dolls were the envy of all my little friends at school. Mine had fur coats with matching hats. Slinky satin gowns with evening purses. And even when it came time for fun in the sun, Barbie had the best bikinis on the beach. Thanks mom!
So began my long standing love of all things couture. And accessories! (Helloooo shoes and bags!)
I ventured a bit away from Mattel's breadwinner when I fell in love with Hasbro's foray into the doll world...the World of Love. The dolls were shorter but boy were they hip. Groovy. Their clothes were bright. Loud. Far out! And I wanted it all.
At the time my mom worked at Hasbro and was able to fulfill my little hippie dreams. My sisters and I were soon the proud owners of Love and her friends: Peace, Flower, and Soul. (They had a collective male interest, Adam, but I didn't add him into the mix until a few years ago when I found him on Ebay...oooh yeah!)
In my world, everyone fit in. All the dolls integrated well with each other and lived in peace and harmony. (Even sharing the neighborhood with the newly arrived military hunks, G.I. Joe. I mean, come on, decapitated Ken wasn't much of a match for the new men in town...hubba hubba!)
Alas, though Barbie never aged, I was growing up. As I headed into my teens, my interests were pulled in another direction...friends, music and...boys. My dolls and their splendid finery were tucked away in boxes and forgotten while I turned my attention to other things. (Which for the sake of time and my reputation, we won't be going into here.)
Fast forward quite a few years. I'm married and the mother of 3 young boys. Not a doll in sight. (Well, unless you count My Buddy...the blond and the brunette ones. Yes, my boys liked the stuffed dolls geared towards little boys...ssshhhh! Don't tell them I mentioned this...they'd kill me!)
Anyway, I took a liking to George Lucas' universe and began to collect Star Wars action figures. The little ones. Then I moved to the larger 12" versions. But it was only a matter of time and totally inevitable that I found myself returning to my fondness for the ever-youthful mannequins of my childhood...Barbie.
However, this time around, I wasn't going for the typical big blue eyed, bomb-shell with the megawatt smile. I wanted different. I wanted the off the beaten path sort. The odd-balls. Pop-culture. Controversial. Misfits. Yeah, those.
And now I'm the proud owner of Hard Rock Café dolls. Super hero dolls. Harley Davidson dolls. Pregnant Barbie. Oreo Cookie Barbie. Heck, I even have Joan Jett and Debbie Harry adorning the walls of the Katie Kave. You heard me. The Katie Kave. That's the name hubster affectionately bestowed on my basement room where my guilty pleasures dwell.
To show I never lost my interest in the runway, I have Donna Karan Barbie - Versace Barbie - Kate Spade Barbie. Christie Brinkley. My prize: a Ruth Handler signed Bloomingdales Barbie. They're all on the shelves right up alongside Cher, Scary Spice and Bewitched. And the new replica Talking Ken hubby presented me with a few years ago to help me finally find peace with the trauma of my childhood. Isn't he sweet? ♥♥ Hubby. Not Ken.
(Don't worry. These ladies are well protected. I have clone troopers and droids along with Luke Skywalker and his buddies keeping a sharp eye on them.)
Sadly, there's been a building backlash against the poor plastic fashion plate. Lots of controversy. Grumblings by groups who claim to be looking out for the well being of impressionable little girls everywhere. Egads! Is the beautiful Barbie really ruining the psyche of my fellow Barbie lovers?
Nah. I really beg to differ with all those naysayers who've argued that the doll has been a bad influence on little girls. They claim she glorifies an unattainable figure. And God forbid, she's oozing too much sexuality; little girls will be forever damaged from being exposed to such a heathen. Horrors!
Balderdash, I say. She cultivates the imagination. Creativity. She expands and opens the minds of little girls (and perhaps boys, too). When I played with my dolls, I pretended they were independent souls who had careers, families and friends. They traveled. They laughed. They danced and sang. They enabled me to think outside of my little piece of the world. Through them, I nurtured and acted out my hopes and dreams of my future self.
For those who think Barbie's adoration is waning. Think again. It's not just the little girls who dream of owning her. Us big overgrown doll lovers have never lost our affection for the 12" fashion icon and all that they represent.
Heck, there may even be a resurgence in her popularity. Take Sports Illustrated. They've put Barbie on the cover of this month's 50th Anniversary issue. In the issue, she holds her own up against iconic swimsuit cover models of years gone by. She's defiant and strong. And definitely comes into her own in the 21st century, even sporting her own hashtag, #unapologetic. That's right. No need to apologize. You're always been #1 in my book, girl.
You rock Barbie!