For my tenth birthday I received a Darci doll. She was better than the assorted blonde Barbie’s I owned. She was taller, more muscular, her hair more platinum and she wore a white bathing suit with a wraparound skirt. She was too big boned to wear any of my Barbie outfits so I had to buy her a new wardrobe of clothes. But for 1979, Darci was cutting edge and the toy world’s attempt at breaking away from the unattainable Barbie hour-glass nymph. By 1981, Darci and the company who made her went out of business.
My Darci and my Barbie’s were a ‘go to’ toy during play time. I even had a large, almost life-size Barbie head that I would decorate with makeup and new hairdos. Although my Barbie’s never acquired a Dream House, convertible, camper, plane and never landed a Ken doll, they had plenty of adventures in my imagination.
During a recent visit to my parents, I took an old cardboard box of dated college textbooks and two pink Barbie wardrobes that stored my dolls since the early 80s. The other day, my youngest sister Sandra and I sorted through the doll time capsule and all the girls that we had tucked away and forgotten. It was like we unlocked their closet and startled them in the middle of dressing for some fabulous bash with Ken.
It is great that Barbie now comes in all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. But as my sister and I pulled out each doll we realized there was lots of diversity back in the seventies and early eighties. For instance …
Dog Chewed My Feet Off Barbie
Can’t Keep My Top on Barbie
Burnt Tanning Bed Barbie
Walk of Shame Barbie
Passive Aggressive Barbie
Bootie Call Barbie
The Rules Barbie
Friend of Bill Barbie
Bed Head Barbie
Brazilian Wax Barbie
Lost My Panties Barbie
In the Closet Barbie
Crazy Stalker Barbie
Mary Kay Letourneau Don’t Touch my Fisher Price Toy Barbie
Today there are two headed dolls with tentacles for legs or dolls that are given a specific role like Astronaut or Presidential candidate. I miss the way we were, when dolls like Barbie were the generic, Wonderbread of dolls. As a kid with red hair and freckles, I didn’t care that I wasn’t a mirror image to the blonde, hour-glass piece of plastic. Barbie, Darci and our petite little Dawn dolls were merely vessels to carry out our imagination. I never looked at their vacant, lifeless eyes and felt less-than. I knew Barbie wasn’t representative of me as a kid or an adult. She was the hollow head I filled with my ideas on how to act, what to believe and do. I dressed her and forced her stiff legs to strut around and act out fabulous life scenarios.
I miss the way we were when Barbie dolls were just for play, a time for dress up and little fingers handling those tricky, tiny metal snaps. Dolls weren’t advocating for anything but play.
It was fun to get all the old dolls together and line them up like a Playboy playmate reunion. Their hair was still fixed just as we left it in 1980, their disheveled attire and twisted heads free from the bottom of the crowded, deep toy trunk long forgotten because we left them to go outside, play and live our life.