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?