Deep thoughts about Barbie
When I was a kid, I don’t remember playing with dolls other than barbies. But oh man, I LOVED Barbies. Mind you, I was the oldest child, a product of divorce at a really young age with both parents remarrying pretty quickly and the first grandkid on my dads side. There was a lot of love from all of my aunts who had their first niece and the guilt of divorce/new parents PLUS I had 4 sets of grandparents from the age of 2 on, 3 sets for which I was the only grandkid for many years. Combine all of that with being born in the mid-late 1970’s and I’m pretty sure that all of the many gifts I received for at least 5 years were barbie related. I remember having a traveling case of Barbies with me at all times as a little kid. Although I think I enjoyed the accessories more than the dolls. Don’t get me wrong, I had piles and piles of the clothes, from my own time and an extensive vintage collection from all of my Aunts and was into them, but I liked having the Barbies do things, and I REALLY liked the props. I had the 1960’s Austin-Healy convertible that had belonged to my Aunts that I (oops) opted to cut the faux trunk open with an exacto knife and immediately depreciated it’s value. But hey, Barbie had a lot to do and a working trunk was necessary. As I also had the Corvette from my own era and I enjoyed how much more awesome Barbie looked tooling around in her vintage pink car, but the Corvette made me realize that I also really preferred the amenities of more modern times.
One of my favorites was the Barbie dream store, which I never knew any one else to have, but I had so much fun setting up a store and making the other Barbies work there. Side bar: One day I wrote numbers on each of my Barbies, high on the outer leg, with a permanent marker. This was how I organized them. I would tell Barbies 11, 18 and 22 that they would be models in the store today. And Barbie 8 would man the cash register and on and on. I somehow felt this process was much better than names. Where on earth did I get that idea???
I was lucky to also have many Barbie home items, including a few of the dream homes, the jacuzzi set, the bubbling spa, and many furniture items. I remember the dream bed the most vividly as it was a canopy and the stars on the bedding glowed in the dark. But I never knew what to do with all the home stuff. Barbie is standing in the kitchen, Barbie is lying on the bed. Ugh, lame, Barbie wants to be out wearing her fabulous clothes and doing cool things. I did have Jem, her stage and all of her band mates, but I was really never into the rock star fantasy, so I didn’t play with that much, if ever. I of course had the horses, Dallas and Prancer, because of my mom, which I was also not into. I had a few Skippers and and Kens and Tracy and Todd, along with all the other side characters that all came to be in the 80’s but Barbie was always my main lady. And as she really had her mind set on work, aside from the occasional wedding or night out, all the others worked for her. It’s also hilarious to point out that thanks to a few photos that my grandmother had taken of one of the weddings in her garden, that Barbie was never the one getting married. She was always in the wedding, and often helped to plan them, but it was always Tracy and Todd getting married. I do remember being excited about all of the crazy, frothy outfits, like peaches and cream, the dream gown and a few others. But I never was into the “normal” clothes. From an early age, I declared that if you were going to take the time to dress up, you might as well go all the way, it was so not worth it to stick her in something less than extraordinary.
My very favorite Barbie thing ever was this fold up home & office that came about with the day to night Barbie in 1984. Day to Night Barbie was my most loved Barbie ever, btw. That whole executive by day and cozy apartment dweller by night was my idea of perfection! That fold up office and murphy bed things was so magical to me. I’m pretty sure I received my own Commodore 64 around this time, so Barbie and I would both spend hours typing away on our computers, tap tap tapping. I found the photo above to make sure you were aware of the amazingnes in case you never saw one in person. On the other side of the wall was a murphy, a vanity and a bookshelf and was blue on pink I believe. The day to night Barbie was just as fabulous as her home and office. The idea was that she would wear her snazzy suit and then in the evening, turn her suit skirt inside out to reveal a tulle concoction, and you would remove the jacket and bam! all along there had been a sequined top under her scarf, Barbie was ready to party!
What I’m curious about was did I request all of these work related Barbie props, or was that just was out there in the 80’s? Did they play a part in influencing how and what I thought about as I grew up? Were the working Barbies and accessories store play sets the catalyst for future non kid having, work obsessed as an accessories designer Sierra? I truly believe that of all of the toys from my childhood, day to night Barbie had the biggest impact on me. It is absolutely what I remeber the most fondly. I thank whomever thought that I needed to have the department store and the home and office accessories way back in 1984. Maybe that really was what planted the seed? All I know was that 3 years later Baby Boom came out, I was 10 and remember thinking something like: “Forget babies, I want to be an executive with my own business, you can keep the crying kids. I’ll be over here with the cool job, my own computer and nice shoes. Suckas.” And I never looked back.