Tuesday, 13 January 2009

To B or not to B

Whilst hanging out recently with my 3 yr old BF, she brought to my attention that I didn't have a Barbie doll of my own. She further suggested that if I got a my own Barbie doll, I could come over to her house and play. I was immediately smitten with the idea. Why can't a 30 something have her own Barbie?

While I know there is a raging discussion (that well intended feminists started before I was even born) about the appropriateness of Ms. B as a toy for impressionable minds. To the extent that she had a fairly extensive makeover (if going from a Dolly Parton to a Dita Von Teese bust size counts).

Unfortunately, I think the doll's demerits have been completely eclipsed by real life Barbie doll role models such as Ms. Hilton, Lohan et. al. and their questionable behaviour that is splattered all over the show.

My little friend's mother was denied a Barbie when she was growing up by her staunchly feminist mother (that should possibly have a capital F). And she in turn, intended to maintain a Barbie free zone – but eventually cracked after a protracted and difficult toilet training 'negotiation'.

However, after much discussion, we the adults have concluded (post purchase justification aside) that Barbie is OK. Not great, but also not psychologically damaging to a worrying extent.

Indeed, I survived a childhood beset with Barbie. Apart from my Lego (which I still have) Barbie proved to be the toy that got the most play longevity of all my toys. Furthermore, as a 16 year old I was markedly upset when the olds gave away my collection (without consultation) to a smaller relative. Jms and his brothers all turned out pretty good and they had (by all reports) a better collection than I (they had the spa AND the convertible).

In retrospect, I personally only developed body image issues after being given a (well intended) Dolly magazine subscription in my tweens. Jms, as far as I know, doesn't have any Barbie body issue problems (apart from a strange fixation with blue eye shadow). I admit that it is a bit of a merchandising flood gate – with matching outfits and vacuous DVDs by the truckload, but at least it gives you a moments break from the Wiggles.

But as the story predictably goes, I found myself wandering a large toy shop (looking for cheap Lego as it happens) when I found myself caught in the vortex of the pink isle. So pink it is visceral - your teeth ache with its artificial sweetness and you feel kinda claustrophobic. It is like crack for little girls and it makes parents wish they were colour blind.

The nearly bare, post-Christmas shelves showed a smattering of what I guess was second or even third tier dolls – with the exception of a handful of an "exclusive" design. A long haired temptress replete with butterfly wings and a layered blue and lilac ball gown. If I could have specified the kind of doll I'd be in to, they couldn't have done a better job (unless the dress was actually designed by Vivienne Westwood). But ultimately I walked away (read: dragged by husband).

I know I should really just wait until the op-shop down the road reopens and get a pre loved doll. It would certainly help my savings - and fly under the radar of Jms' House Deposit Plan of Ultimate Fiscal Restraint. But there was a certain something about that doll that I can't get off my mind.

I was trawling though my inspiration folder yesterday and found the following picture:

(Many apologies, but I can't find a source for this)

So far I have fought the Blythe phenomenon tooth and nail, but as a crazy cat lady in the making, a Nikki doll is DEFINITELY on my wish list.

Obviously at its going rate on ebay (and the current list of useful items around the house that badly need replacing) it is an understatement to call it an extravagance. Simply out of the question. Not to mention that whole economic downturn thingy.

God knows why I feel I need it, but it does make a new Barbie seem a lot less over the top. Unfortunately I'd be getting a lot less aesthetic bang for my buck. A quick google image search reveals that the Barbie Mariposa Queen is just a little more 'gauche' than the 'haute' couture of my rose coloured recollection.

Dare I say garish?

Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Perhaps it was an overload of "fairy princess" games over the holidays. But then again, didn't Dolce & Gabbana do a range of over the top butterfly dresses a few years back? And Galliano and Lacroix can't seem to help vomiting lurid silk organza at every turn...

I actually have no idea what my point is here.

But I do think it might involve wanting to brush synthetic hair with a teeny comb and co-ordinate a small wardrobe. The pure escapism of matching shoes and handbags, ball gowns and up-dos without an unflattering mirror or fake tan booth in sight.

Dressing up is fun, but as an adult it seems to require so much more of a production (and hollywood tape). Barbie doesn't have to stress about underarm hair or a VPL.

And she doesn't get offended when ditched for a different game or lunch.

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