My Life With Barbie

I got five emails last week saying "Hi, I'm Barbie. Do you want to play with me?" Somehow I do not think this came from the Mattel Company. Off to Spam. But I did have a Barbie when I was a kid. Just one Barbie and no Ken. That was unusual in my tawny group of friends who had multiple Barbies. Debbie F. maxed out at eight and we were all jealous. But they all looked alike. Now we know that there has been a huge sea change in the Barbie world. No longer is "Barbie" and "bombshell" necessarily in the same sentence. There is Curvy Barbie and Tall Barbie and Petite Barbie, and yes, you can still get the original.

My daughter had a group of Barbies and a Barbie car, and a Barbie swimming pool, a wardrobe to kill, and the Barbie house with all the trappings and she never played with dolls. I never played with my Barbie either. The only doll I remember doing anything with was a "Betsy Wetsy." Pre-dating Barbie, this was a doll that had a hole in her mouth into which one inserted a bottle. Then Betsy did what she was supposed to do. She wet. Grape juice on the couch should have finished Betsy off in my home. But what really did it was the frequent insertion of the old style thermometers into that hole. After Betsy accidentally swallowed six of them, my mother carted her off to the "hospital" where she underwent serious abdominal surgery and never returned. Perhaps that is why Barbie, or any doll, never really attracted my attention again.

Today's Barbies might. What I really love is not just their various shapes but there are 22 eye colors and 7 shades of skin tones. I wonder if you can buy the heads separately and plop them on the body of your choice? Having my own mixed-culture family, that would come in handy and certainly be more economical.

Sales of Barbie are up at least 8% as of this writing. I think what the company has done in creating diversity for kids are great. But where is Ken in all this? Is he the lonely white guy not invited to the party? Come on , Mattel. Give us some new Ken heads. He gets to keep his old body.

Whether you had the old Barbie's or are in the market for the new ones, if you have kids, you know that stripping Barbie is of great fascination, particularly if you are a boy kid. It somehow never occurred to my son that if you've seen one naked Barbie, you've seen them all. But one day he stripped his sister's Barbie harem, the dolls she never played with. The primal scream that was launched at her discovery of this infraction brought us running. Let the punishment fit the crime. My son had to re-dress all the Barbies. If you have never done this, I promise that whether it is Curvy Barbie or Tall Barbie, sticking those pointy fingers and arms into the clothing is ridiculously hard. And to Moms and Dads everywhere, you will still keel over in pain if you step on one of Barbie's Jimmy Choo's in the middle of the night.

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