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I'm a Barbie Girl

Features Editorial Assistant Sarah Sol reminiscences about her Barbie doll and how her sparkly ‘Len’, transformed her into the woman she is today. 

It was 2005. Scratchy cassette tapes played on a box TV in a yellow-stained room. A young girl with blue eyes and a grumpy face shook on screen; voices yelled in the background but the girl was too young to respond. 

She turned to the Barbie clutched in her chubby fingers, its tattered hair tangled between her fingertips despite it being bought just yesterday. She held the doll up to the camera, and only then did her creased eyebrows finally smooth over. 

At the ripe age of two, I had already found my one true love – it was that Barbie doll. Her name later became Len, purely because it rhymes with her husband Ken. She experienced life with me by her side, not the other way around. I did everything with that damn doll and she became everything to me. 

I remember the tiny Barbie kitchen I used to play with. It had tiny blue teacups that I would lose all over the place. Then one day, they would magically show up in her kitchen again. 

I remember growing older and getting the best Barbie dollhouse – four stories tall. The house was pink and had an attic that opened up. It was twice the size of me then and I couldn’t yet reach the attic. Once I could reach it, I carved my name into its wood so everyone knew the castle I owned. 

I remember peeling the laminate off the roof when it started to flake, how sad I was that the doll house was ruined, but how satisfying those peels were. 

I remember watching Barbie movies with my dolls beside me, then immediately running to let them re-enact everything I had just seen. 

My Barbie Len was everything: she was a pop star, a fashion icon, a zoo keeper, a farmer, a fairy and a mermaid. She owned a cafe. She owned a country too. Not to mention she had the most handsome Ken doll for a husband, who always wore a glittering pink tie. Her wardrobe grew so much over the years, that I had to purchase a tote bag to store all of her different gowns in. My sister had her own separate tote as well. We would change them 3-5 times each time we played Barbies. And we played for hours! 

Our Barbies would save the world and visit Fairyland on holidays to visit their mother, who was a drunken mermaid.

My Barbie was a superhero, an icon. She was my icon. She was everything I could have ever imagined at that age, and she is still my entire inspiration today.

I remember when I was in Year 6, and my sister in Year 7; she no longer enjoyed playing Barbies as much as she did. I could tell because our Barbie play time no longer lasted hours; she’d always cut it short leaving me unfulfilled. Her Barbies weren't as enthusiastic as mine and she would no longer get up and dance to the songs our Barbies wrote. 

Then, the worst day of my life came. My sister told me she no longer wanted to play Barbies. I dropped my Barbie (sorry Len), and screamed at the highest pitch I could muster. I obviously got yelled at by my mother because she had thought ‘someone was dying’.  Well, it felt like I was. 

My sister and I never played after that. Occasionally, I would brush Len’s hair or change her outfit so she still felt beautiful. Sometimes, I would even bring the blanket high over my sister's Barbies’ faces so they would suffocate; in revenge for her crushing all my dreams. 

I still have Len in a box in my bedroom. She is wearing her tallest pair of high heels and the most sparkly pink dress I could find. Len is still so many things to me: a fashion icon, a strong crazy, wild woman never afraid to show off her loud personality – there was never anything Len couldn't do.

Looking back now, I may have stopped playing Barbies at age 10, but that was when I started playing in real life. I stopped dressing up my Barbie in dazzling pink dresses with tiaras in her hair, and I started overdressing myself for every occasion. My wardrobe today reflects all the dresses that were once stuffed into that oversized tote. 

Len lives on. Not as a doll, but as a part of me. Like her, I have many talents: an artist, a lawyer, a writer. I have a miniature farm and a garden packed with the most exotic plants. I am, however, unfortunately not a fairy nor a mermaid. 

Today, I am everything Len once was. Barbie was my childhood icon, I wanted to be everything she was and today I am. 

I remember when my little sister was born and she was finally old enough to play Barbies. We brought my old dollhouse back into the house, my name still carved into the wood. She was too small to reach the attic, so, I reached it for her.


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