Thursday, August 5, 2010

What a Doll

A couple of months ago I asked for blog topics in a facebook post. Amongst other replies was one from my friend Heather, asking, "How do you feel about Barbie?" I didn't know whether she meant as a moniker for myself or the doll or what. I didn't ask. I just pondered. Obviously, I've pondered it for a while, but only on and off.

I've never really felt like a Barbie. I was called Barbie for a short time in my much younger years, and as an affectation, even took to writing it Barby. But none of that lasted long. I've never felt like a Barbie, Barbara, or (fie upon the thought) Babs, only Barb. Just Barb... one syllable, easy, no one mistakes it for anything else. Occasionally people still call me Barbie just for fun, but to me it's the same as calling someone Sugarpuss. It's just a term of endearment, really.

As for Barbie, the doll, I've never had much use for her either. I didn't have Barbie dolls as a kid. I wasn't much into playing with dolls, save for the one sad, wretched, abused bald baby doll that was a hand-me-down (nay, a cast-off) from my sister. She battered the poor dear and then abandoned her. I tried my best to wipe the crayon and marker off of her blinky-eyed face, lovingly soaped and washed the three short sprigs of hair she had left, and swaddled her in a soft "banky." That was pretty much it for my playing with dolls gig. Imaginative child that I was, I was much more content opening mud pie bakeries or homesteading under collapsing huts made of broken branches and old beach towels, or staging my own theatrical renditions of all things Rogers and Hammerstein.

My very brief stint playing with Barbie(s) didn't come until I was nearly eleven years old. A new family moved in on the block and I became fast friends with Sue - she was one of four girls. One afternoon we were playing with her collection of Barbie(esque) dolls. I wanted to change the clothes on the one I had... I was in the mood for glitz and glamour, not beach togs. As I started to peel the tiny shirt off of the fake plastic torso, Sue, wide-eyed and horrified, pleaded, "No... no, don't do that." "Why not?" I asked. "Because..." she explained in a whisper. "Because my Mom doesn't want the littler girls seeing their boobies and po-pos." Even at that young age, I thought, "Huh?!" But, I let it rest, and before long we moved on to some other game. So began and ended my barbie doll career.

I've never been able to get worked up about the whole feminist view of the self-esteem damage caused to young girls because of the so called "perfect" body that a Barbie doll imbues. For one thing, there's nothing perfect about it. It's a plastic doll that stands, what... nine inches tall? It's a toy. To any girl raised with proper self-respect, a toy should have about as much impact on her self-esteem as a peanut butter sandwich.

So, all of this has been floating around in my head since Heather asked, "What do you think about Barbie?" In truth, I didn't think about Barbie until she asked. However, all of the Barbie flotsam and jetsam kind of came together the other day when my friend Angela (whose imagination I adore) posted some garden pictures, including her creatively inspired "Barbie Bricks."

This is the best use of all things Barbie that I've seen... ever. With Ang's permission, I'm posting her blurb about them along with a few of the pics. At the very least it's good for a laugh. More than that, for me, is the message that you can get creative with anything. Anything.

"Here are what I like to call Barbie Bricks. We use two 80 pound bags of cement and encased the Barbies in different positions, with the idea we bury the bricks to only where it just looks like I stuck dolls into the ground and you can easily pull them up. When you make the attempt you can’t because... well, they're in 5 inches of concrete underground... I was going to hide them around the yard, but the dog already ate one Barbie. I did not want them to find and eat more so it had to be in the garden… So here is the showcase of Barbie Bricks."
~Angela Crabtree

PS (post-posting note) Please check the comment section below this post for the full story on Barbie Bricks!


  1. The full story of the Barbie Bricks should be told.
    They were part of a prank. A series of pranks, actually. I was the victim. And I brought it upon myself.
    Angela and I are deep in the middle of a Barbie War. It began when a friend brought case of 24 naked barbies to a party. To this day, I do not know why. I thought it would be amusing to hide them about the house. Angela and her boyfriend Travis were finding barbies for weeks. They were not amused, and attempted to reciprocate, by hiding some of the offending dolls at my house.
    I, being competitive, had to beat them. I took 12 dolls and hung them from Angela's precious back-yard trees by their ankles. A dozen naked, upside down barbies. It was like Naked Barbie Blair Witch Project. I then informed Ang that simply hiding dolls was not enough, we had to try to top each other.
    And she rose to the occasion.
    It is now my turn, and I tell you, payback is gona be a bitch.
    A skinny, plastic blond bitch.
    One other thing I should note, that you might find amusing. These cheap dolls came from china, and they came naked, except for lace undies and high-heeled shoes. They could not be shipped naked. They had to at least have underwear, and it was worth the cost to add shoes, but not a bra or top.
    What does that tell you about how we view women and appropriate attire? Skimpy undies and sexy shoes...

  2. Oh boy... that is a fantastic and hilarious story! It sounds like something out of one of those Southern novels. Kind of a (very) twisted version of To Kill a Mockingbird. What will Boo Radley hide in the tree next? A nearly naked Chinese Barbie, of course! Thanks for sharing the story Mr. Morris!!!

  3. Like a Barbie Body Farm going on out there!


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