Friday, March 22, 2013

Big bag 'o Barbies

"Do you think I'm wonderful?" she asked him one day as they leaned against the trunk of a petrified maple.
"No," he said.
"Because so many girls are wonderful. I imagine hundreds of men have called their loves wonderful today, and it's only noon. You couldn't be something that hundreds of others are."

-- Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated
Thrift store Barbies 3-22-13
I scored an unexpected windfall at the thrift store when I bought a bag of seven Barbie dolls for $2.99. It was mere minutes before the store closed, and yet, somehow, nobody had snatched up this lucky find.

I'm no math wiz, but at $2.99 plus tax, they come out to roughly 44 cents apiece. Of course, new Barbies come with clothes. Mine are all buck naked.

I didn't have my own Barbies when I was little. My sisters had them. Although I did have a Ken. He was a "mod-style" Ken, (right) with bushy long-ish hair and a stick-on beard, sideburns and mustache. (I scissored his mod-style hair into a buzz cut and stuck the facial hair on myself -- big surprise).

I preferred playing out back in the dirt with my "Best of the West" action figures. I had an Indian chief, an outlaw cowboy clad in all-black, with guns and a quick draw arm, and Johnny and Josie West, a couple of horses and a Jeep (not pink -- a rugged, copper-colored, real Jeep).

Thrift store Barbies (2) 3-22-13
I read a very insightful essay recently, about the psychology of girls and their Barbies. Here is an excerpt:

"In the past few decades quite a few people have suggested–citing most often the offense of impossible proportions–that Barbie dolls teach young girls to hate themselves. But the opposite may be true. British researchers recently found that girls between the ages of seven and eleven harbor surprisingly strong feelings of dislike for their Barbie dolls, with no other toy or brand name inspiring such a negative response from the children. The dolls “provoked rejection, hatred, and violence” and many girls preferred Barbie torture–by cutting, burning, decapitation, or microwaving–over other ways of playing with the doll. Reasons that the girls hated their Barbies included, somewhat poetically, the fact that they were “plastic.” The researchers also noted that the girls never spoke of one single, special Barbie, but tended to talk about having a box full of anonymous Barbies. “On a deeper level Barbie has become inanimate,” one of the researchers remarked. “She has lost any individual warmth that she might have possessed if she were perceived as a singular person. This may go some way towards explaining the violence and torture.” -- Eula Biss, "Relations"

If you want to read all of Eula Biss' essay (I recommend it), you can find it here:

If you don't want to read it, that's fine. Do whatever you want. 

I will be out back torturing my new Barbies.