In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Out of Your Reach.” Was there a toy or thing you always wanted as a child, during the holidays or on your birthday, but never received? Tell us about it.
I was 11. 11 is an awkward age — young woman/little girl. I wanted a Barbie doll. She was still a relatively new phenomenon at that time, 1963, still, she’d been around long enough that “all the other girls” had one.
Barbie horrified my parents. She did not represent the values they wanted me to have — she was superficial and sex-oriented and her life (life?) revolved around boys and clothes. My dad saw her as Madison Avenue marketing at its “best” — a doll that would teach kids to be consumers.
I wore them down and for my 12th birthday I got two presents — one a pretty and grown-up necklace, a pearl set in gold on a thin gold chain. The other, a dark-haired Barbie. At least, my parents thought, I wasn’t going to fall into the Cult of the Blonde. My own hair was red-brown.
Barbie did not turn out as my parents imagined and by the following Christmas they had somewhat different attitudes toward her. Barbie inspired me to design and sew clothes (they weren’t buying any, that’s for sure, no Madison Avenue Bullshit for my dad in that regard) and I spent a lot of time in the basement building houses out of boxes, blocks of wood and pictures from the Sears Catalog. Barbie turned out to be creative inspiration. For Christmas that year my parents gave me square yards of various fabrics, needles and thread — all in my very own sewing box! I made Barbie a brocade evening gown with a matching swing coat with fur trim on the sleeves (no patterns) and lots of other more “ordinary” dresses.
I did play dolls with a frenemy, but what interested me most was the house (cardboard box) I’d designed for Barbie to live in. My frenemy had a store-bought house for her Barbie, but I didn’t want one. Barbie was as far as I was driven to join the Barbie culture. I never wanted Ken — he was weird. I had the belief that dolls should not be male. At a certain point they bought me a friend for Barbie, Midge, and I still have her. She’s cute — with a turned up nose, freckles, red-hair and blue eyes. She’s been wearing Barbie’s homemade evening gown since 1967.