To Amuse and Delight

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Barbie and Me

My very good friend LL Barkat mentioned to me that she and other bloggers were posting about Barbie to promote a book give away for the book “Barbies at Communion”. I was intrigued. These folks are not “Barbie people”, or even doll people. So I wondered what they would say about the doll I have an intimate love/hate relationship with. My childhood was lived during the pre- “pink box” Barbie era. Through Barbie my eyes were opened to the world of fashion. Back then the Barbie clothes were like real clothes, just tiny.  They were made of good quality fabrics with teeny buttons and zippers. A far cry from the plastic fabrics and velcro of today. Barbie became the perfect model for experimentation. I could poke, paint and glue her. I could put straight pins right though her hollow head (to keep the hats in place). You could pop off her head for someone else’s, if the hair didn’t quite go with the outfit. Clad only in a crazy arrangement of tin foil, she still smiled as if she were proud to be wearing it. She had dangerous adventures too. G.I. Joe couldn’t have all the outdoor fun. A favorite of mine was to tie string around her waist and throw her off a bridge at the top of a waterfall. I would watch her go down the falls, loose sight of her in the crash at the bottom, then pull her up after she resurfaced. This was reapeated over and over again. 

One thing led to another and I ended up in a career designing clothes for real people. I don’t know how much credit Barbie gets for that, but I’m sure she had some influence. Where does the ‘hate’ come into our love/hate relationship? Well, I don’t care very much for the new Barbies. I don’t like the clothes, the hair, the stuff.

Here I am back around 1987, obviously I had much too much time on my hands. My sister and I would go to Barbie conventions. Yes, as you see sometimes we even dressed as Barbie dolls. I sewed replicas of real Barbie outfits for us to wear. You see me wearing the hippy get up worn by 1971 ‘Live Action Barbie’. I am also wearing a wig by the way. My daughters think this is very weird. They wonder why anyone would want to dress up like Barbie. Sure, they ask me to make costumes for them too. But, they prefer to run around as Laura Ingalls and Frodo. I guess I should count my blessings!

Here is my lovely sister sporting the 1965 Francie outfit ‘Dance Party’. Francie was Barbie’s mod English cousin. I wonder whatever happened to Francie. Has she traded in her false eyelashes and snakeskin coat in an effort to “go green”? I hope not. Either way she’s probably got a blog or two out there.


  1. EVE!!!

    Omg, these are fabulous. And it is so amazing to see you looking like that.

    Wonderful post. For so many reasons. :)

  2. Ahh, you inspire me and scare me all at the same time! Actually I do love your creativity (and your honesty and willingness to share these great photos.) You do truly have a talent with fabric and you help remind me to find my lost loves and talents from "then" and figure out a way to incorporate them into my "now". -RM

  3. are you SERIOUS????
    that is one of the most coolest things i have ever SEEN!!
    you actually sewed replicas of Barbie costumes and WORE THEM???
    you're coolness factor just increased for me. and i didn't think that was possible!

  4. I think you and my wife would get along very well. Although we're not afraid of the new Barbies, she prefers the high end collectibles, which have the real clothes that I guess all Barbies used to have.

  5. *Thank you L L- if it wasn't for you I wouldn't have had a reason to embarrass myself at this level.

    *Ahh2B and Andrea- HA!!! I am laughing HARD at your comments.

    Ahh- to tell you the truth I scare myself when I see this picture.

    Andrea- I still have that outfit, you can borrow it!

  6. I love it! I forgot about sticking straight pins through Barbie's head until I read your post. I did that too!

    You're right about the atrocities of today's Barbie. The plastic clothes with Velcro closures might be more cost effective, and easier for kids to manage, but certainly don't have the same appeal as buttoning tiny buttons and zipping miniature zippers (and don't help with fine motor skills either, but that's another subject altogether).

    Worst of all, today's Barbie legs don't bend with the same joint popping sound of the Barbies of my day.

    No matter, they all end up naked at my house anyway.

  7. OH my goodness. This is the best post ever! I too have a love/hate relationship with Barbie. The photo of you reminds me of Edina Monsoon, btw.

  8. Yes, Mandy! I can definitely see the Edina Monsoon connection.