Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Barbie conundrum

Anne Fernald, a Virginia Woolf friend and, long ago, a contributor to my book, is facing the holiday season with a daughter entering an impressionable age: the Barbie years.

Barbie, a doll that used to be for eight- and nine-year-olds, is mostly for three- to six-year-olds now. My older daughter will be four in two weeks. Christmas is in three. All she wants is Barbie.

I almost caved.

Hold your ground, Anne. Take it from Barbie herself:

"Go climb trees," she said. "You don't want to be like me, pinched and pointed and curled."

"Don't envy me my ornaments, Barbie said. Forget matching luggage, the sports car, and Ken. Travel light, little sister, why gild a lily? Try white ankle socks and some sensible shoes."

"Don't you mention my martyred hair. I denounce this lacquered, preternatural lid. Wear goofy bangs, get a crewcut, devolve."

"And spread out, Barbie said. Why go through life shaped like a railroad spike? Use your elbows, make shade, take up space."

"I'm sad, Barbie said, sad and smiling, smiling and sad. I'm a mental-health squeeze play, don't try this at home."

"It's too late for me, but you, you're still young, play Hamlet, bet the farm, tell the truth."

From Laura Costas, "Experience," in Mondo Barbie.

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