Friday, January 29, 2016

Barbie - Trying on a New Look

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If you're a male - leave now. You won't be the least bit interested in this. If you're a female, and anywhere from 60ish down to 3 or 4 years old,  you possibly will.

Barbie is changing her looks. After 57 years, she's getting a major makeover, according to the news. What worked for most of those 57 years is now starting to have less than stellar sales results, so Mattel is doing what they refer to as 'body transformations', and the new Barbie should start showing up on the shelves around March of this year.

Barbie used to be 11.5 inches tall, with a very skinny waist, legs that didn't end, and a less than realistic bust line. At least nobody I've ever known was that naturally well endowed and also had skinny legs and waist. My Aunt Jessie Mae's bust line could put Barbie's to shame - you could literally get lost in her bosom, (and trust me, if you'd seen it, you'd call it a 'bosom' too.) But her waist was pretty generous too, and her legs were the type any good farm wife needed - stocky and strong and straight. Aunt Jessie Mae's ankles weren't terribly discernible. I don't know that anyone would rush out and buy an Aunt Jessie Mae doll, but I would think she was pretty great! Hugging my Aunt Jessie Mae poured life and comfort and safety into every fiber of my little body back then. Eating a glass full of her cornbread and milk was pretty great too.

So Mattel has decided Barbie may need to have a more current, correct look. The new Barbie will have three bodies - curvy, tall and petite. She'll also come in seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 25 hairstyles. 

I don't believe my older sister, Barb ever had a Barbie - she was just enough years older than me to miss that stage, but I got my Barbie when I was 8 years old, in 1963, for my third birthday. She had black bobbed hair, looked like she was sporting a nice tan, red lipstick, tiny white pearl earrings were shoved through her ears, and a beautiful Miss America-style red bathing suit. Her feet were shod with the teeniest of black slip on heels. She was all I wanted for my birthday that year, and to this day she is still my most exciting birthday present ever given to me. I'd put Miss Lily, my 8 lb Shih Tzu above her, but Miss Lily doesn't count because I gave her to me, myself, just because I needed her.

My mother bought Barbie for me, likely at a cost of around $3.00, and then sewed me a few beautiful dresses Barbie could wear when she was going places. In particular I remember a beautiful black satin dress with black tulle netting around it. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, and Barbie was a vision of loveliness when she wore it, that black hair, that black dress - stunning!

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Never once did I look at Barbie and think her waist was ridiculously small, or that she was much more well endowed than I was or would ever be. I didn't think her thighs were too slim to be realistic, I just loved her in the simple way most eight year old girls would. When my father moved us from Texas to Colorado, and I wasn't there to choose which toys would make the move with us, Barbie was left behind, given away to somebody. For my fiftieth birthday, my mother sent me a check to repurchase another Barbie just like mine, off Ebay, for $50. The same hair, the same red bathing suit, the same little pearl earrings. When she arrived and I took her out of the package, I still didn't look at her and think, 'I wish I looked like her'; rather I was just happy to be reunited, even if it was another one and not my original. 

Sometimes when my granddaughters are here visiting, I take my Barbie out and let them play with her because I always think it's sad when toys sit on shelves and are unloved.
Mattel is saying 'one size doesn't fit all' but that wasn't true for me. She fit me perfectly, even though we had different shapes then and they never did match. Mattel also says for the new Barbies to be a success, from a marketing standpoint, they need to appear on Youtube, movies, videos, and on apps. Mine just needed to show up in some birthday paper, with my name written on the package.

There is one improvement they are making to the new Barbie that I'm pretty excited about: Barbie's foot, for the first time, will be moveable, 'allowing her to kick off her heels and flats.' That's something every girl / woman can identify with.

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