March 9, 2009

Happy Birthday, BFF!

Original Barbie Catalog
(Personal Collection - From the early '60's)

An old friend is celebrating her 50th Birthday this today. My, my, my . . . how quickly the years pass, yet wonderful memories prevail. Yes, I was one of the original "Barbie" fans. In 1960, with a dollar in my hot little hand, I still remember the agonizing choice: Should I purchase a Barbie doll or a jar of "Dippety-Do" setting goo for my new hairdo? Was I a "big girl" or still a "baby"? Tough choice to make!!! While my Mom waited I made my choice, plunked down my allowance money and carried Barbie home triumphantly. I never regretted the purchase.

My Mom thought she was "homely". We (my sister, cousin and friends) thought she was totally glamorous. We spent many hours of creative play drooling over her couture clothes, well crafted and designed with beautifully finished seams, tiny buttons and snaps. We created stories and scenarios. We gave her friends, boyfriends, break-ups and many careers. We built wonderful rooms for her out of cardboard boxes, wallpaper scraps and scotch tape. She was more than a doll - She was a well-loved friend and an artistic muse.

Times have changed. Today a "tween" wouldn't be caught dead with a Barbie doll. They prefer instant messaging, video games and MP3 players. In today's society dolls are relegated to much younger girls. How sad! Barbie taught me to celebrate my individuality. Was I content with her white-blonde "bubble" haircut, red lips and nails? Hell, No! I was the first (and may I add only) girl on the block with an "altered" doll. My Barbie had to be different and was given a neat haircut. I pierced her ears and added posh pearl stud earrings (using the head of some straight pins). She was further accessorized with trendy pale pink lips and nails (courtesy of some nail polish!) , , , and . . .(are you ready???) . . . silver glitter eyeshadow!

Barbie also taught me to be an entrepreneur. I saved my hard-earned babysitting money to purchase small pieces of luscious fabrics, bits of trim and Barbie patterns to design my own line of doll clothes. When I reached the ripe old age of 14, I sewed tiny, originally designed outfits all summer; they were all were made by hand. I sold these couture creations to the younger Barbie devotees in the neighborhood and purchased a coveted peach-colored cardigan sweater with the earnings.

It's with great fondness and many happy memories that I'm wishing my very old friend and muse a Happy 50th! Interestingly enough, "Dippety-Do" has gone the way of curlers and body waves, but "Barbie" still rules!

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