06 April 2009

Icon Luv: Barbie

I was a tomboy as child. I loved Tonka trucks and camping equipment. But since I'm such a conundrum, I also loved dolls. I played with Barbie until I was much older than was fashionable, under the pretense that I was playing with my sister.

My favourite doll was Beauty Secrets Barbie (1980 model is shown in the photo). I loved that she was so articulated, and that she had so many items. I loved that she could hold her little powder puff and dab it on her face. I loved that she had a stocked beauty kit.

When I grew older, I realized that Barbie didn't look like me. I was a thin girl with a small bust and hips, and Barbie was, well, pneumatic. She was not like me, so I put away childish things, but I couldn't get rid of them completely. I still had a secret love of Barbie.

When I studied Clothing & Textiles in university, we had a lecture in one class by a Barbie doll collector. She explained to us how Barbie had influenced and been influenced by fashion and popular culture. I was amazed because my little Barbie connection from childhood suddenly had a connection to feminism and pop culture in ways I'd never considered. Despite her unnatural dimensions, Barbie had many positive career roles, including:
  • Astronaut
  • Doctor
  • Volunteer candy striper
  • UNICEF ambassador
Barbie was a beauty and she and her friends represented many cultures, always with a great sense of style and a killer makeup look.

Others know the fun of Barbie too. MAC released the MAC Loves Barbie cosmetics line in 2007 with beautiful doll-like shades like bright pink. This was one of MACs most successful collections, and Barbie was brought back to the minds of women who grew up playing with their dolls. In turn, Barbie released a MAC Barbie Doll, which was sought after by not just Barbie collectors but MAC collectors as well.

In 2009, Barbie celebrates her 50th anniversary. At New York Fashion Week for Fall 2009, 50 designers contributed to a 50-look Barbie runway show. Stila released the Stila Loves Barbie line, containing more doll-like shades in cute little paint can kits. Lou Lou magazine published an article showing a few examples of Barbie's fashion influences over the years.

I have to admit I still long for some of the Barbies that come out every year. Face it, Barbie is still hot. Hot pink!

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