Monday, 3 September 2012

Barbie (Μπάρμπη)

The invention of Barbie is a double-edged sword: although she is a bimbo, even a girl who never had a Barbie doll will still act like one at some point in her life. It can't be helped because if a woman doesn't go through some bimbo stage in her life, she can never really create her own feminine style.

I never had a Barbie doll when I was young because my mother never bought me one, and she never had one either naturally, being a Greek villager born a few years before WW2. Nor did I ever get one as a present, since most of our family friends were Greek people of similar backgrounds to our parents. Barbie dolls were expensive in my youth; these days, there are cheap facsimile versions available to poorer pockets, so most girls own some kind of dress-up doll. Hence I never really found it necessary for my daughter to have one, but she got them anyway from her godmother, who bought them for her own daughter too. By the time she was nine, half a dozen Barbies and Barbie-lookalikes adorned her shelves.

She never really enjoyed playing with them in the way that I would expect girls to enjoy them, but she did regard them as girls' toys, due to traditional sex orientation trends. Obviously, there would be Barbie talk at school, which she could join into because she owned a Barbie herself; no doubt this gave her some security and self-confidence among her peers.
Barbies picking fruit during a gap year on a working vacation: "Pity we forgot the suntan lotion, eh? The sun's good from this height."

Barbie was also something she could play with without her brother. Of course, he regarded Barbie as a girls-only toy, but he also viewed Barbie as a way to tease his sister: at least, this is the person we would often blame when we found a Barbie with a broken leg or Barbie's accessories went missing. Although this would upset both me and my daughter because it was an invasion of private space and she was not really the vengeful type that would destroy his toys (she'd ask me to do it), I could also see that my daughter wasn't really into keeping Barbie intact. She cut a Barbie's hair and painted her nails, both of which are generally irreversible procedure on dolls. And since I couldn't really stand Barbie myself, I was hoping that her Barbies would eventually die in some way without my needing to do the dirty deed myself.
"This is a palm tree, right?"

This summer, my daughter surprised me by giving all her Barbie dolls away to a neighbour's granddaughter that she often plays with. I was thrilled to bits - the bimbos had left the house without any help from me. Her brother was relieved too: "So it doesn't really matter that I broke that Barbie bike when we were young because if you still had it, you would have given that away too, right?" For me, this is a sign that they have both developed their own different playtime interests; it is the point that they have started to show their independence away from each other when searching for leisure activities.
"Just let me know if anyone's coming so they don't see me with my pants down, LOL."
Even though I was glad to see the end of Barbie in our house, I was also intrigued as to what made her take the decision to get rid of what I thought might have been regarded by her as a precious toy. Never having a Barbie myself, I really couldn't work this one out. But I know what might have pointed her towards giving something away that had outlived its use in our own home. We have two bags in our house that are always being filled with things we don't need any more - one for clothes, and one for toys; when the bags fill up, we take them to a church or give things away to friends (in the same way that we were given most of the contents of those bags). Instead of passing on the responsibility to me to recycle those things, she took the initiative herself.
"This is a good site for the end-of-holiday party - we can do pole dancing here."

When I asked her why she gave away her Barbie dolls, she told me she wanted to clear some space from her shelves for her new toys; her shelves are now cluttered with nail polish, hair bands and her own self-styled bead jewellery. She is simply moving on to the next stage of creating her own identity, one that Barbie helped her develop in her own mysterious girlie way.

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