Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Life in Plastic

Good bed linen costs stupid prices in Athens, so I literally brought back all the high quality cotton bed sheets and pillow cases that I could carry from the UK this time.

If anyone had told me 20 years ago that bed linen would become my new Barbie, I would have laughed in their face. In 1990, I was still getting high removing a new Barbie from her box and inhaling her delicious, plasticy, fresh from the box smell, stroking her hair and promptly losing her little plastic shoes.

Fast forward to 2010 and I'm pulling new bedsheets from their packaging, inhaling the fresh cottony smell and insisting Mr Zeus feel their quality.

Barbie was a big, big part of my childhood. I don't quite remember when I stopped playing with her. I do remember my first university lecture ever was about Barbie's media image, her constant career changes and her bad influence on self-image. I sat there thinking "Really?"

I felt bad. I searched my inner psyche for things I could blame on Barbie, but found nothing.

Me and my sisters had about 20 Barbies between us, and none of them left a negative mark on us. The only doll who always played the sinister role in our games was our solitary Sindi doll. That girl was bad news, with her real eyelashes and rotating wrists.

Our Barbies were in total control of their collective destinies. They did what they wanted, when they wanted. They divorced and married one of our three Kens as they wished, with no ill feelings towards the previous wives. They had spa days before battling dragons and monsters, went on expeditions and discovered new countries while the Kens were busy being idiots.

It was the Barbies who always saved the Kens from the stupid messes they got themselves into, never the other way around. In my Barbie World, Ken was an unreliable and immature moron who often had to grovel at Barbie's feet to feel worthy. I mean actually put his plastic grin to her chewed-up tippy toes. That's another thing, why were Barbie's feet so deliciously chewable? Tiny bite marks peppered her little feet and some even had extra long, bumpy fingers until my sisters and I got over eating our Barbies.

Sometimes I wonder if people give kids less credit than they deserve. I knew Barbie wasn't real and didn't have an actual life, so I had no interest at all in being like her. I certainly never undressed her and thought "I hope I have a little plastic body when I grow up". I was only concerned with throwing elaborate Barbie weddings each year, complete with hand-sown Indian wedding gowns and once, a fight with the neighbour who owned a Ken, that now my Barbie had to go live at Ken's house i.e. her house as is tradition.

Barbie was the spokesperson for the things me and my sisters had trouble expressing as just ourselves. Our Barbies would sit in a circle and conduct conferences on the various issues in our lives ("Should I change schools like Mum says?", "Shall I cut my hair short?", "Mum was mean to me. Is it a good idea to run away?")

These conferences of us three sisters (before the fourth arrived) were voted upon by raised Barbie hands. Ken's were never invited to the conferences and if they were, no one paid much attention to their opinions.

If I had a daughter, I wouldn't stop her playing with Barbie. I would take extra care not to let any fashion magazines into the house which is easy since I don't read them.

For now, I fold my new bedsheets like little Barbie outfits. I miss her sometimes. I don't think I ever truly grew out of playing with her.

Image: http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sfgate/culture/2005/08/05/barbies.jpg

1 comment:

Sesi said...

Hey Bollybotton, long time no see! But this Barbie post made me smile! I grew up on Barbies as well. Being an only child, they were excellent playmates as well as discussion partners. Everything I had to say, I told them. And yes, Barbie feet have the most delicious taste. Also, by styling Barbie hair did I learn how the human hair grows, while the plastic doll hair doesn't, which was quiet a shock to me at my young age.
Then, when I grew up, I started collecting the dolls, the special edition ones. Some of my dolls have gained quiet some value over the time as well. I received one every Christmas by my husband as my special Christmas gift.
Until one Christmas, we went to Jumbo for our godchild, and while strolling by the Barbie stall, I was shocked to find that the new Barbies all look like melonheads! They make their heads HUGE these days! And there ended by collecting days, because, as a purist, I could never get over the fact that my Barbie didn't have the perfect proportions anymore. I still sigh everytime I pass by the Barbie stall!
And there you have it: that's how my childhood officially ended, at the age of 33. With a melonhead Barbie doll!