Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Barbie's Wardrobe

I'm a girl.  That means when I was young I had a Barbie or Barbie-type doll.  If you were a lucky girl she was a real Barbie that, when thrown at someone would do some damage (not like the hollow plastic ones that could be caught in mid-air by a little boy named...say...Michael Kidd,  and thrown back at you.)

Barbie wore high heels and tight dresses with unbelievable large seams for her scale.  She may have worn home-made bellbottoms and a Bob Makie-style tank top.  My Barbies had long blond hair, for a while anyway, until I'd take mom's sewing scissors and give her the worst haircut ever.  I even had a Barbie with long red hair!  She lasted a little longer until my son got a hold of her.  I think his GI Joe had something to do with that.  Was never proven, though.

ANYHOO I gave up on Barbies for a while until 10 years ago.  I was shopping in a toy store and saw a bin filled with College Cheerleader Barbies.  Imagine my surprise when I found a Virginia Tech cheerleader.  I had to buy it for oddity's sake.

I took her home and for the last decade she's been sitting in her short skirt and tennies.  She spent winters like that, with no leg warmers or letterman jacket, a constant smile on her face.   Poor Barb.  Resigned to her fate.

Last weekend I went shopping with my mother at Target.  We wandered through the aisles leaning on shopping carts and letting the subliminal advertising run its course through our minds.  We must have walked into the toy section just as the secret suggestive voices said, "Isn't it about time Barbie had a new wardrobe?  (Asile 10.)"  Well, heck yeah!  Mindlessly, I maneuvered my cart into the pink aisle and perused the dolls.  The new Barbies were pretty neato, actually.  Internationally themed ones and dolls that looked like classic movie characters.  Pretty cool!  Based on the variation I was seeing I thought, "Oh maybe a nice ball gown or a sari.  Maybe something in a batik pattern."  Let me tell you, I was so disappointed.  All I saw were thin little rags that made Barbie look like a 14th Street hooker.  I wondered if the "dresses" came with mini prophylactics or penicillin.

I wondered if my Barbie was condemned to sit on my desk in a skimpy cheerleader uniform forever.  Then I saw it.  A nice sweater and khaki pants!  Hey! That's nice!  The shoes are kinda big, but HEY, fitting Barbie feet into Barbie shoes is a notoriously painful exercise.  Maybe Mattel listened to the pleas of little girls and their moms, no doubt submitted in letters written with bandaged fingers.  Then I looked closer.  KEN.  They were Ken's clothes!  Well for Pete's sake!!!  Can't Barbie have a descent set of casual clothes?  I'd be happy with stretch leggings and a tiger print tunic at this point!

KEN.  That jerk.  He was so useless!  Now he sat there on the shelf taunting me and my Barbie.  He had comfortable, normal, law-abiding clothes.  It wasn't fair.

So I made a decision that wasn't too unusual for me - a girl, the first girl to volunteer to be a Wise Man (#2) at the Christmas play at St. Alphonsus.  I decided Barbie would be wearing a pair of khakis and a dang sweater.  Who were these market researchers to tell my Barbie-with-the-cold-legs that she couldn't wear normal clothes?  They were obviously people who didn't have teenage daughters to worry about, or there would have been USAF Flight suits, or jeans and a blazer, or yoga pants!  I proudly took the Ken outfit off the rack, threw it in my cart on top of the Franken Berry box and proudly strolled up to the register, proud of sticking it to the MAN.

This evening I took Barbie and finally, FINALLY changed her clothes.  I think this pleased me as much as I'm sure it pleased her.

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