I saw this doll when I was shopping.
I thought you would love her.
I hope you will.
Hugs and kisses,
from: Penny and Her Doll
written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, 2012
I’m pretty sure I’ve admitted to my sneaky Barbie play-dates. All my friends were allowed to have Barbie dolls, and many had clothes and other go-withs. I’d play with their Barbies at their houses and no one was the wiser.
But my mom was not dumb. Far from it. I’m pretty sure, looking back, she was on to me. In many ways, my mom was ahead of her time. She believed in strong, independent women. Although my mom loved me the way only a mother can, I think she longed for me to become stronger and more independent than I am.
I grew up in the 1950s and 60s. Times were simpler (and more complex) then. Mixed messages were the norm. Women in bouffant hairstyles and aprons assured me I could be anything I wanted to be.
I was seven years old when Barbie made her debut. The years after saw Astronaut Barbie, Surgeon Barbie, TV News Reporter Barbie, Veterinarian Barbie, Army Officer Barbie, Fire Fighter Barbie, Engineer Barbie, and many more. She had all the right clothes, and accessories, all the right friends, and cool transportation. I had all of it from afar.
Mom could not reconcile the controversy surrounding the grown-up look of a Barbie doll. For Mom, even though Barbie had all those professions and accessories, as a doll, she was particularly unsuitable for young children. I had baby-dolls. I loved them. And I’m still wrestling with my mom’s own mixed message.
Besides the very fact of Barbie being controversial in 1959, even her birthday is controversial. A diagram dated July 24, 1959, is posted on http://barbie.mattel.com/en-us/about/our-history.html. But, most websites agree Barbie first appeared on March 9, 1959, at the opening of the American Toy Fair in New York City. Barbie’s official birthday is March 9.
In the whole scheme of controversies plaguing early 21st century America, Barbie and her birthday seem pretty inconsequential. But according to http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/barbie-makes-her-debut “since 1959, more than 800 million dolls in the Barbie family have been sold around the world and Barbie is now a bona fide global icon.”
So whileeven though the ideal is still beauty and the message is still mixed, more women are reaching their potential. We move forward slowly.