Growing up with two older brothers, I spent some time being a bit of a tomboy. But there was one thing I did enjoy as a girl: playing with my Barbies.
First came the Barbie dolls with all the clothing, shoes and accessories. Then there was Skipper, Barbie’s younger sister, I believe. (I never did take to her much). My Ken doll was there too. Sometimes Barbie let him drive her silver convertible—I dreamed of having one just like it someday. And then there was the ultimate: The Barbie Dreamhouse.
I have dozens of memories of the many hours that were spent plotting storylines and adventures for the whole crew. I was reminded of all that this weekend.
I stopped in at F.A.O. Schwarz in New York City. Even though I may have gone as a child and even though I’ve seen the movie Big dozens of times, it felt like my first time in this iconic toy store. (And yes, I did see the floor piano from the movie!)
I wandered in awe taking in the life-sized Batman made of Legos, five pound gummy bears and the make your own Muppet station. So when I stumbled into the Barbie section I felt comfortable. It would be like catching up with old friends.
Old friends sure can change when years and years go by. These weren’t the dolls I remembered.
The first ones I saw? Twilight Barbie dolls. Yes. Twilight Barbie dolls. I looked around some more. Will and Kate Barbies, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill Barbies. A Dancing With the Stars Barbie. AND. A Ken doll that looked like this:
This is not the Ken I remember! The Ken doll I owned was mature, had perfect hair, a charming smile and always dressed like he was stepping out of a J.Crew Catalogue, ready for a picnic on the beach. He was the guy you dreamed of marrying—the one your father approved of.
This Ken doll isn’t the man of your dreams; he just haunts them. This Ken doll looks like the guy who loves you and leaves you. He walks with a swagger, wears more hair product than you and has an attitude. He still hasn’t figured out what to do with his life and can’t settle down with just one Barbie when there are so many to choose from: Princess Barbie, Mermaid Barbie, Cheerleader Barbie, Betty Draper Barbie, Sinatra Barbie…
Maybe this isn’t news to most people—after all, since its creation in 1959, Barbie has always developed different versions of the dolls—but it’s news to me. I never realized just how much variety there is. And I’m okay with variety and diversity, but these seem too different. I know the times are changing. I do. I just wish some classic things wouldn’t deviate too much from the original. Is nothing sacred? Not even Barbie?
Then again it’s all relative. I’m betting if I was a young girl today I’d be begging for Bieber Ken and Vampire Cullen.
I have to admit it made me laugh and I did enjoy seeing some of the classic looking dolls. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I had forgotten how much Barbie meant to me.