Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What A Doll

Happy Birthday Barbie!

She turned 50 yesterday. That makes her a Pisces: intuitive, creative, and prone to addictions, but you can tell that by looking at her. She looks great, though—far younger than her years—which often is the case with people who are injected with plastic.

To mark the special day, oppressive paternal regimes have banned Barbie altogether, including India, Saudi Arabia, the Taliban and West Virginia.

Barbie has been through a lot. As of today, she has had 108 occupations. It caused a media stir in 1995 when she was recalled from her Teacher Barbie job for not wearing underwear. She ran for president in 2004, as a member of the Girl Party. (She lost.) For all these years, she has not been able to get down off her tiptoes.

According to Mattel, Barbie had a sister Skipper, introduced in 1963, and Tutti, her twin, who came in 1964. (?) Both vanished years ago, and were never seen again, mostly because nobody looked. Barbie got three new sisters thirty years later.

Including a horse, a lion cub and a chimpanzee, Barbie has had over fifty pets, not counting Ken. She and Ken, her boyfriend of forty years, broke up on Valentine's Day 2004, because he would not commit. (We know the real reason. Hello, cardigan sweater.) They reunited last year. They are still not engaged.

If she were life-sized, she would be 6' tall, 100 pounds, a size 4, and her measurements would be 39-19-33. Her inventor, Ruth Handler, also held a patent on prosthetic plastic breasts for women, which had a very natural look and feel.

Barbie was named after the inventor's daughter, and Ken was named after the inventor's son. So, um, ick.

Barbie was the first doll I bothered to undress. I learned a lot, although I ran into a few surprises years later. Ken was missing a few details too. At least, I think they were missing.

Parents can fly their children to Chicago to visit Barbie Place, where for $1200 (airfare included) you can have tea with your doll and get her hair styled. For about the same price, you can go to cosmetology school and style her hair yourself. There is also a Barbie Hospital, where you can replace broken limbs and heads, although not necessarily with matching ones. Parts are expensive, so it is often cheaper to buy a new Barbie than it is to Frankenstein one together out of spare parts. That is one thing Barbie and real people have in common.

So happy birthday, Barbie. I wish you fifty more fascinating years. And good luck with that Ken thing.

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