Tuesday, November 28, 2006


By Cornelia

It's that time of year again: everybody going all feral on each other at the mall, nothing but "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" on the radio, freezing rain... spotlit life-size plastic lawn creches, rollicking nights of dreidels and gelt and latkes, nekkid druids mucking about in solstice-ian groves by moonlight, or various and sundry objets du Kwanzaa. And gift lists.

I am such a huge loser at the organizational part of this season I should probably celebrate Chinese Christmas, which would be sometime in late January, shortly before Chinese New Year. The whole thing pretty much gives me hives. I mean, I like eggnog, joyful children, and hanging stockings by the chimney with care and everything, and I REALLY like latkes, but the piped-in Claus-centric ersatz jollity stuff drives me up a wall.

The thing I fear most about the-tidings-of-comfort-and-joy racket is the likelihood that I will find myself in some Big-Box toy store after dark sometime around the 23rd of December, when everyone still out shopping has taken on the general demeanor of ravenous flesh-eating zombies. Inevitably, I will get shoved screaming into the hot pink torture zone of The Barbie Aisle, where I will be trapped so long by the madding crowds as to be rendered unconscious by the sheer profusion of sparkly fuchsia and lavender accoutrements.

I have loathed Barbie for as long as I can remember. I have never actually owned one, and the closest I ever got to "playing" with anything from the Their Satanic Mattel Majesties was ripping the heads off my sister's Barbies and Kens and exchanging them to put on drag revues.

Apparently, I am not the first person to whom this activity has occured:

Although I am in more awe of the people who switched the voiceboxes on Barbies and GI Joes some years ago so the latter could squeak "Math is hard!" for a change.

I've heard rumors that the first iteration of Barbie was based on a German "pleasure doll," which would not surprise me in the least. Barbie No. 1 looks a lot tartier than her descendants, if slightly less vapid:

And this version from the early sixties had the whole "I'm squintily FRENCH! And all of my clothes just blew off!" routine pretty well memorized (don't get me started on blue eyeshadow, speaking of hives):

Which is not to say I'm in favor of the Islamist backlash version (to crib a joke from Ann Coulter, "Hey Skipper, does this trenchcoat make me look fatwa?"):

Though perhaps Fulla is preferable to this chick:

And to Halle Barbie...

Not to mention Macrame Barbie and "Dry Look" Ken (by Prince Matchabelli, IIRC):

There's a Barbie for everyone, apparently... Lilly-Pulitzer-clad for the Stepford fan (AKA "Palm Bitch Barbie"):
"Art-Deco Bestiality Barbie" (giant gorilla hand sold separately):

You can go Aristo:

Or just Arrest-o:

...NASCAR Barbie...
...Or NCC-1701...
They even have Lord of the Rings sets of B&K, though they're kind of retreads from last year.

The only Barbie I've ever come close to actually liking is also the only one I've ever actually purchased (not for myself, but for my goddaughter Hope on her second birthday):

... complete with wife-beater shirt under her leathers.

If they ever let me design celebrity-theme Barbies, these would be my top ten:

1. "Whatever Happened to Barbie Jane":

2. "Behind-the-Green Barbie":

3. "Fatal Barb-traction":

4. Barbie Riefenstahl:

5. "Bride of FranKENstein":

6. "Barbie 'n' Clyde":

7. "Rosemary's Barbie":

8. Carrie + Barbie = Carbie?

9. Okay, this one is just outright type-casting:

And, of course,

10. Barbie Horror:

Tell me your worst-nightmare Barbie...

And Happy Holidays!


  1. "Okay! This time you've gone too damn far!" was my immediate reaction; but, by the time I finished reading you had won me over! Such fun! Worst Barbie nightmare: Hilary Barbie.

    Guess I'll take my Barbie out of my coat pocket--it's usually too warm to keep my hand in my pocket anyway.

    Thanks for the good laugh, and may all your Christmases be bright.

    Santa Tom, T.O.

  2. Ah, Hilary Barbie! With Massive Fundraising Action (tm)! Pit her against Giuliani '08 Ken for rock-'em sock-'em campaign trail fun! (Iowa Caucus sold separately...)

    And I'm digging your smiley Santa-con sig line, there, Tom--especially the little pompom.

  3. Cornelia, what a hilarious post. I never had a Barbie but in Cover Your Assets I wrote a line of description that reads, "A pink hankie that looked like the chute from Paratrooper Barbie blossomed from the breast pocket of his dove gray sports jacket."

  4. Cornelia, I think you covered all the barbie horror I can imagine. Shudder.

  5. Damn, I think I owned that original Barbie with the flattering horizontal stripe swimsuit.

    Worst Barbie nightmare? Author Barbie

  6. Patty, I'm lovin' me some Paratrooper Barbie--what a great image!

    Sandra, how about French-Separatist Barbie, for the Canadian market?

    And Louise... Author Barbie is truly a terrifying concept. I think we should make her a cutthroat chart-topping romance author. Can't you just see her teamed up with Malibu Personal Assistant Skipper?

  7. I've always completely disagreed with the Barbie haters of the world, those feminists who have this idea that girls who play with Barbie think they should look like Barbie. Well, I played with Barbie and I had no idea I was supposed to be envious. My daughter actually has all my old Barbies, plus a bunch of the new ones. Once Barbie's in the house, she seems to breed all on her own. And they're all usually naked or dressed to kill in those fancy ballgowns. And my daughter, who happens to be Chinese, only ever wants to play with the blonde Barbies. But she doesn't seem to see that should be a problem, either.

    So to me, there are no nightmare Barbies. Although we do have a Prince Charming Ken who likes to hang out with the stuffed monkeys. Read into that what you will.

  8. you DO remember chocolate barbie, don't you???? It's reeally called "Chocolate Obsession BArbie" and you were the one who found her a few years back. http://tinyurl.com/y8xyuw) Remember? She allegedly "smells like chocolate"? (no don't go there)
    The toy crap insert in Sunday's paper showed a "Barbie bling head" thing - I have no idea what it was really alled but the word "bling" was in htere - it's a "style" head or something. It's SO $#*(@#^$%& scary as it has "bratz" lips - Angelina Collagen Barbie?

    Buy PINK RIBBON BARBIE - and $2.50 wil go to the Komen foundation. I don't make this stuff UP, you know....

  9. What fun! I'd be first in line to buy "Whatever Happened to Barbie Jane" and "Barbie Horror."

    My Barbie nom is "The Exorcist Barbie." Her head would turn, she'd levitate, and she'd puke pea soup...

    Just like my sister Eileen!

    [My sister, Eileen Dietz, played Captain Howdy - aka The Face of Death - and many of the possession scenes for Linda Blair. And yes, she was the one who puked pea soup.]

    Denise Dietz, big sister to Exorcist Barbie.

  10. Okay, I was laughing until I hit Horror Barbie. Then I suddenly thought, "Hey, Tim Curry looks hot! Even in a garter belt!"

    Sick, huh? Yet somehow so right.

  11. Karen, I don't think it's so much Barbie's pneumatic looks that rubbed me the wrong way as it was her overall femme-iness. I was always too much of a snarky tomboy to get into the sparkly pink stuff. I think that used to worry my mom quite a bit, actually. Have I mentioned the time I asked for a Marine Corps dress uniform costume for Christmas? She gave me a tutu instead.

    Andi, did you see this year's Citrus Obession model? Probably also scented... I wonder if you could light her on fire to increase the effect, like those Glad Scented-Oil Candles?

    Ah, Deni, I think Exorcist Stunt-Double Barbie would be a huge hit!!

    And Nancy, you're a chick after my own heart... I would totally buy Tim Curry in Garter-belt Barbie. He could live on top of my computer, even....

  12. "Sandra, how about French-Separatist Barbie, for the Canadian market?"

    If it's in the image of Parizeau I'd be scared senseless.

  13. This year, for the company Halloween party, our HR department decided to dress up as Barbie dolls. Which is bad enough right there (is there anything more pathetic than a grown woman being Barbie for Halloween?), but worse than that, the only woman among them who was not tall, thinnish and blandly pretty got to be Ken. Then the CEO, who was MC'ing the costume contest, made some inappropriate remarks ("I like those shoes, and I like what's in them.") and my lab, who had come as biker punks, got totally robbed for first prize. So lame.

  14. Okay, I confess: I collect SOME Barbies. The odd adult collector ones, not so much the oft tacky pink box play lines. Mind you the overly sequined Bob Mackie designs leave me cringing as well. I collect period costumed ones and odd sexy ones like the adult lady cat retro dolls, and maybe Batgirl, and leather Sandi from Grease. Hmmm, that makes sense - a lot of them are femme fatales.
    Anyway, I've seen some of the raunchiest, naughtiest made-over versions going: a gallery exhibit in Melbourne a fair few years ago. I mean, bondage and garter belts was pretty tame at that exhibit. So what's wrong with a Tim Curry as Frank'n'Furter doll? He's soooo hot.

    Oh, yes, and all of that high gloss pink can send one absolutely barmy in spite of sunglasses and a martini.


  15. Daisy, you make me so happy that I am not gainfully employed--except for the being totally broke part. But I love your lab for being biker punks. OF COURSE HR would be Barbie...

    And Marianne, I admit that I find some of the historical Barbies oddly fascinating. The Queen Elizabeth one I have the picture of in this post, for instance. Something about that tremendously high forehead and the red hair, as though Barbie has been superimposed over the original, is deeply intriguing. But also because there's no PINK, I think!

  16. I'm always a day or two late to your high-larious posts, Cornelia.

    Card-carrying Barbie hater here. When I had a daughter, I feared that she would test me by desiring Barbies by the wagonful. But she doesn't like dolls or princesses. I'm sure she's saving up for some test that I can't even imagine at this time, possibly involving multiple genital piercings or her boyfriends' names tatooed down her cheeks. But no Barbies!

    In honor of the hols, I'd like to see Virgin Mary Barbie.

  17. How about Yuppie Barbie? Complete with Blackberry and Starby's?


  18. Also late to the party, but I have to ask if you've seen Sarah Strohmeyer's BARBIE UNBOUND? A friend gave me a copy several years ago because I have an odd love/hate thing with Barbie. It's full of Barbie for the real world. The kind of stuff you laugh at, but rather nervously.

    I have a Ken who used to live on my desk at work who is dressed in a floor length evening gown that used to belong to my Cher doll. This particular Ken is an early 90's creation with frosted "hair" who came dressed in a lavender mesh shirt and lavender pleather vest. If any Ken was screaming out for a dress...

  19. I surfed by for this week's post, but I forgot about the time difference - you're probably on your first latte of the day still.
    I wish I'd had it together enough to have gotten in on the real-time action for this post 'cause I'm taking a poll on who else in this great wonderland has heard of the only "Barbie" my mom let me have. It's the "Growing Up Skipper." You twist her arm around and her torso grows and so do her boobs.

    I'm not kidding. I lost the original in the local creek where Growing Up Skipper was playing Marine Biologist and got swept away in a torrent, so no one would believe me for years that she actually existed. My husband finally found one on Ebay and bought it for me for Christmas. She stands (absolutely naked with half her hair chopped off courtesy of the previous owner) right by my computer as I write every day.