Porochista Khakpour wrote a wonderful op-ed in the New York Times today about someone who is celebrating a birthday today. It’s someone we all have feelings for, good or bad. It’s someone who has divided women. No, it’s not Sarah Palin! Or Hillary Clinton! It’s Barbie!
Yes Gentle Readers, today is Barbie’s birthday. She’s fifty years old, that pretty blonde girl. Like many girls my age, I had Barbies. I know many feminists come down on Barbie for being so perfect that it’s not realistic. I see their point. However my Barbies always were fun for me. I created stories about them. They were either damsels in distress and I would tie them up (this worried my mother), or I would put a parachute on one of them and they would go sailing in the sky, jumping out of the airplane on a top secret mission. If I was playing with friends, they were the glamorous aunt who wasn’t married yet. Come along with me, and remember Barbies of years past.
Golden Dream Barbie
This was a great Barbie. She was dressed in a golden pantsuit and had a golden ring on her small little hand. I gave this Barbie doll to my friend Stella for a birthday gift when I was nine. Stella’s mom was with us and she grabbed the doll away from Stella. “Oh my God! This is the most beautiful Barbie ever!” She ran over to where her husband was in the back room. “Look, honey! Look what Jennifer gave Stella! Isn’t it the most beautiful Barbie ever?”
I remember getting this Barbie when I was seven. If you notice the dress it has a print of lipstick kisses all over it, and it came with its own lipstick. I had Barbie kiss several pieces of paper, my stuffed animals, my grandfather’s cheek. Now I look at it and think her lips look like a collagen procedure gone bad.
I can’t remember if it’s this Barbie or another Barbie, but she definitely had a tan line. You took off her clothes and she would be tan on her arms and legs, but her breasts, butt, and groin weren’t. I put her out in the sun naked. She didn’t get tan. Fortunately, she didn’t melt.
I got this Barbie for my birthday when I was about seven. I can’t remember too much about this Barbie, but I remember how I liked her dress.
Sport and Shave Ken
Okay, this is when I have to admit something embarrassing.
I received this Ken doll when I was eight. I immediately liked him first off because I had a Ken doll! Finally, my Barbies could date someone other than my teddy bear or a Smurf.
One night when I was changing Ken’s clothes I checked to see if anyone was around. No one was, so I pulled down his shorts to see what he looked like naked. There was a little bump. That was it. Just a bump. Geez. Poor Ken.
A couple of years later I just learned about sex. I still had my Barbies. Some of them were beaten up but they were still good for adventures. I took out my Golden Dream Barbie, and a Barbie bedroom set I had. I took Ken and Barbie’s clothes off, got those two kids in bed, and let’s just say that they were friends with plastic benefits. All was missing in my Barbie porno was bad jazz music and sound effects.
I did this a couple of times. Ken was usually on top. Sometimes they had champagne before hand, like they did in Dallas. They were going at it like bunnies when I heard my mother yell: ”Jennifer Kathleen, the dishes aren’t going to get done by themselves!” Before I knew what was happening, she walked in and saw Ken out of the bed and Barbie’s breasts. “Oh. Well,” she said, “I didn’t mean to interrupt. Why don’t we do the dishes?”
I was so mortified. Completely mortified. My mother caught Barbie and Ken having sex! Well, she caught me making Barbie and Ken having sex. This was bad, bad, bad. I left them where they were and went in the kitchen. We started to do the dishes and Mom said: “Sweetie, you know if you have any questions, you can talk to me.”
“I don’t have any questions,” I said, my hands deep in the soapy water.
“So I didn’t just see Barbie and Ken having sex.”
I looked at her. “They were cuddling.”
“They were cuddling naked.”
I looked at her. “Do we have to talk about it?”
She looked at me for a moment, and then said: “No. Just know that if you want to talk about it, you can, okay?”
I nodded. After that, Barbie and Ken stopped having sex. The risk was too great.
I know now I wasn’t the only girl who had their Barbie and Ken have sex. Years ago during a writing workshop we were reading a poem about Barbie. Our teacher asked: “Okay, it’s time to admit something. Who had their Ken and Barbie have sex?” All the women raised their hand.
Barbie moved on without me. There was a Rapping Barbie, a Dream Glow Barbie, so many Barbies. Someday I might give her to my niece, and tell her that Barbie can do anything she wants her to. And someday if her Ken and Barbie are having sex, I’ll try and be discreet, or put on some Barry White.
Happy 50th, Barbie. You don’t look a year over twenty-five.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries