Happy 60th Barbie

March 9th is the 60th birthday of the barbie doll.  While there’s much to be read on the history of Barbie, today’s post is my tribute to my own.

Yes, while Barbie is controversial and perpetuates unrealistic body expectations for girls who we’re trying to raise into confident, happy women who are comfortable with their own bodies (as does the fashion/beauty industry), I felt a wave of nostalgia as I remembered The Barbie Doll Years.

My sister and I spent many afternoons sitting on the bedroom floor dressing barbies, making outfits and doing their hair. As a young girl I enjoyed sewing clothes for barbies before starting to make my own clothes as a teenager.

I still have my three barbie dolls. When I dug them out to photograph them I was disappointed that there weren’t any me-made barbie clothes in the box too. They must be in another box (in the shed?) but I couldn’t even begin to guess where.

Happy 60th Barbie Skipper
Skipper was a pressie on my 5th birthday, in 1977. I remember feeling unbelievably lucky that I would receive a present like this. I never sewed clothes for Skipper, but this is her original dress (I was good and careful with my toys).
Happy 60th Barbie other barbie
Another much-played with barbie was this one, with no name, who was given to me after Skipper. This might have been her original dress – I cannot remember. Oops, didn’t realise her face was so dirty.
Happy 60th Barbie pink barbie
This doll, with fabulously long hair, came later, when I was maybe 10 years old? A birthday gift from my grandparents. She had a carry case full of plastic “grooming accessories”, which defeated us fitting everything back in. A Google reveals she was Beauty Secrets Barbie.

Mattel have been inventing new barbies all the time with different careers, cultural heritages and body shapes.  Among them is a barbie in a wheelchair with a prosthetic leg.  This made me remember a disabled barbie we had: my sister’s barbie doll lost a leg when some neighbours came to play one day.  After that she was dressed in long skirts but fortunately it was the 1970’s and maxi dresses were in fashion.  We had the leg but no lasting success re-attaching it (Mum tried Araldite).  On their next visit, the poor doll lost her other leg, and spent the rest of her days wearing long dresses and sitting in a chair.

My own girls had a barbie who lost a leg, and I was about to throw the doll away (she wasn’t a “real” barbie doll), but they wanted to keep her and they showed her extra love and care.  I was touched by their compassion.

Do you have a fond barbie doll story?

2 Comments

  1. Juliet on March 11, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    I was lucky enough to get a Cindy (ballerina) doll for my 10th or 11th birthday. She was the sort which had bendy knees, and came with her own tutu and point shoes. She was beautiful, and I vowed to keep her perfect (after having some barbies from my younger years with very knotted hair). My older sister asked if she could change her hair and promised to put it back exactly how it was. Didn’t end well for once perfect Cindy… 🙁

    • lizhaywood on March 11, 2019 at 4:16 pm

      That’s the kind of story you can tell to your sister’s children 🙂

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