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That Time I Bought a Barbie

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So remember that time I was 26-years-old and bought a Barbie? Yeh, that just happened. But it’s vintage! You don’t care, right?

When Leslie from Shop Jujus sent me photos for her interview, an item in one of them caught my eye – Barbie. Not just any Barbie, but one that wore a zebra printed bathing suit and blonde topknot. For those unfamiliar with Barbie history, the original one that was released in 1959 wore this same ensemble. So, I inquired. Leslie said it was a gift from a friend and that if she ever were to part with it, she’d let me know. After constant reminders and prying, that day finally came, and I snatched her up.

Interestingly, when I first told someone I bought it, I was a little embarrassed. I was reminded of the time my dad told me he bought a Ford Pinto. Seriously dad, they’re combustible. Barbie gets a lot of criticism for her unrealistic proportions, but there’s something about her frozen smile and oblique, sideways glance (pre 1971) that appeals to me. She’s much more than an 11 ½” tall plastic figure who is just as beautiful now as the day she was born.

A cliché reason would be that Barbie is a blank slate of personality. She is and can be anyone and throughout her life, she has been six months ahead or behind of the times. Before Sally Ride, she was an astronaut, and during the race revolution, she had a black friend. She is a doctor, lawyer, tennis player, athlete, teacher and many more personas. That’s empowering to women. (side note: what isn’t empowering about Barbie is that she was based off of a German doll, Bild Lilli, who was, let’s just say, very forward. One of her taglines was that she was the “star of every bar and the mascot of your car”).

Can we be real? Yes, let’s. With Barbie, it’s all about fashion; clothing is what drives this locomotion. Always has, always will be. She can wear tweed, silk and spandex, and she can do maxi, midi, or mini. Even when she’s wearing sandals, they’re heeled. What a woman! Whether it be handmade or RTW clothing, my life also surrounds fashion. I’m love fabrics, fit, production, display and all facets of clothing. Fashion… it is the common denominator between Barbie and I.

So on my bookshelf and next to my Schaeffer and Joseph-Armstrong reads will sit Barbie. I bought one, and that’s it. One is enough; I wouldn’t want to be weird.

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  1. Reply


    If you are going to have one that is definitely the one to have! I have many fond memories of trying to make barbie clothes. I guess she was my first dress form!

  2. Reply

    Lady ID

    Lol. I read the title and was like ok cool. But I am the person with Pop Vinyl versions of Alice, Edna from the Incredibles, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, etc.

  3. Reply

    Diane Brown

    As a child of the 60s, having a Barbie was a must. I started sewing at age five making clothing for my “baby” dolls. I got a Barbie when I was nine or ten; I was in fashion doll heaven! I could design to my heart’s content. I also made money by selling my creations to other girls with Barbies.

  4. Reply

    Amanda Russell

    Growing up, amongst my love of reading and climbing trees, I had a helluva lot of fun playing with Barbies too – I used to weave elaborate stories for them and make them clothes out of my mum’s old stockings, and furniture out of whatever was handy haha!! I carefully kept her tiny shoes and jewelry (which I LOVED) in an old soap box from my dad – I can still smell it in my memory – good times 🙂

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