Fifty Shades of Barbie

Warning – Reader should note that this is not erotica fiction.

I’m joining the throngs of those who are capitalizing on the year’s fifty shades theme. At a recent visit to Target my daughters and I happened on the Barbie aisle. Oh.My.Word.

When did Barbie become an untamed monster?

While some may think she was always a monster, I liked her. I never saw Barbie as ‘real’. She didn’t have a figure I wanted – she was plastic. I found real images to be far more damaging in terms of affecting my body image. Barbie was just a doll with hard plastic boobs – nothing I wanted to be, just something I wanted to play with, dress, pretend with, catch her kissing in the shoe box with Ken (or better, GI Joe) à la Erma Bombeck. 

JuliaMy first (perhaps only) Barbie was a “Julia” Doll. “Julia-Barbie” was created after a hit television show that aired from 1969 through 1971 called “Julia”. It starred Diahann Carroll in the role of Julia, a widowed single mom who worked as a nurse. It was ground breaking in casting an African-American as the lead. Julia the Doll was ground breaking as well.

It was the early ’70’s and most dolls were white. Julia had brown skin.

As I look back on the time and my desire for a Barbie, I appreciate that my parents purposely decided that Malibu Barbie would be incongruent with raising a daughter in Pakistan, a country where whites are the minority and most people have skin color of varying shades of brown. While Malibu Barbie may have been the dream of other 12-year olds, the minute I held my Julia Doll I ran around the house screaming with excitement. She was beautiful with her big brown eyes, cute short haircut, and her nursing uniform…yes – Julia came complete with a crisp, white, tailored uniform and a nursing cap. I was in a heaven of sorts.

I also went on to become a nurse. I’m not sure if my Julia Doll had anything to do with it but it certainly didn’t hurt.

So while there have always been variations on the Barbie theme, they seemed more manageable. Now? It’s nuts.

Take a look and see for yourself through this Fifty Shades of Barbie Photo Montage. Then weigh in through the comments on these questions:  Do you like Barbie? Has Barbie become a monster or was she always a monster? Did you have a Barbie and if so, which kind? Did you want to be Barbie, or did you see her for what she is – pure plastic?

Fried Cerebellum and a Master’s Degree

I have mentioned before that my daughter, Annie, is finishing up a Master’s Degree at the American University of Cairo. She defends her thesis on Monday and I wish I was in Cairo. I want to be making cookies and tea to soothe both her cerebellum and her soul as she prepares for the grueling presentation of facts and narrative supporting her thesis statement.

Since I can’t offer that, I sent her the next best thing: a story about Graduate School Barbie (TM). Graduate School Barbie helped me realize that everything I have heard from my daughter for the past three years is real, accurate, and worse than she has described. I knew about the propensity for tears and the different sort of eye ducts, but my daughter never told me that she would have fried cerebellum or that the lining of her stomach would dissolve from the surplus of digestive juices produced by anxiety. I had to discover it from Graduate School Barbie. This Barbie, with her prematurely graying hair, wrinkles, and  sallow skin, is quite a Barbie. Barbie haters may even wish for the real Barbie back, instead of one with grey cells. There are two types of Grad school Barbies and Annie would most relate with Delusional Masters Barbie (TM). We’ll see if she’s willing to move forward and model herself after PhD Masochist Barbie (TM) – I’m secretly hoping that honor will be for my niece and her mom to navigate.

I discovered Graduate School Barbie through the blog Ceej and Em. This blogger suggests Grad School Barbie would make an excellent Christmas gift. Here’s this teaser from the post:

Every Graduate School Barbie comes with these fun-filled features guaranteed to delight and entertain for hours: Grad School Barbie comes out of the box with a big grin on her face that turns into a frown after 2 weeks or her first advisor meeting (whichever comes first). Read more here! You will be so glad you did! 

If you have any friends in graduate school, please send them the blog post from Ceej and Em today! It will make everything a bit easier for them to know that a special Barbie was designed with them in mind.

As for my daughter – I am so proud of her fried cerebellum, her overactive tear ducts, and her tenacity. Day after day of putting fingers to keyboard and typing out one word at a time; reviewing the manuscript for one more look at her citations; existing on coffee and adrenaline; and producing a thesis all while going through the upheaval in Cairo is remarkable. She has endured sleepless nights from gunshots and fires in the street, she has been housebound some days, and unable to get to her house on others because of rioting in the streets and she has done it all without her mom. Evidence of how little I am needed? I like to think it’s evidence of her tough spirit!

So join me by drinking a glass of Proseco, (or sparkling cider!) as I celebrate her fried cerebellum and a well-earned Masters Degree.

A Happy Weekend to all!