As the iconic Mattel doll turns 60 on March 9th, which is quite a milestone, I thought about my own relationship with Barbie and even her boyfriend Ken.
At the age of five I was given my first Barbie doll by Lucilla, a family friend from London who sported the shortest miniskirts and shiniest knee high boots herself. She was cool, trendy and very non-Italian and her gift meant the world to me at the time. Today, looking back, I realize Lucilla opened a whole Pandora’s box, because that Barbie became the first vessel through which I told my stories.
Inspired by her friend, my mom soon bought me a Ken, a few other Barbie dolls so mine would have friends, as well as a pink convertible and a two horses — one white, one calico. I remember them more than I remember my playmates in school. Come to think of it, my future life choices were all probably inspired by those first years spent in the company of Mattel cars, horses and cute yet not very communicative men. If I go through the list of my exes in my head, I see a lot of Ken in each of them. Even my male friends seem to have that clean cut look. And I still refuse to drive a car with a permanent roof.
Barbie has been dressed in Chanel, Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin, she’s now become “curvy” and even transgender. She’s been interpreted in all the colors of our beautiful human rainbow and still enchants scores of little girls — and little boys too perhaps — into playing out their first dreams with her.
She is Barbie, and even if her measurements were unrealistic, yes they’ve since been adjusted a bit, her feet could only wear high heels back in the days, she was born so perfect she never needed treatments and she never grew old, she was and still is a great role model for women everywhere.
I believe because she arrived in a box, alone, single and carefree. With a few wonderful pieces of clothing in tow and her perfect ponytailed hair. And to a girl with no siblings, no one to really play with as a child up in the hills of Florence, Barbie held the promise of a whole new world of fun, endless possibilities and never-ending hours of play.
So, I salute you Barbie, because I am the woman I am today thanks to you. And to your wonderful company.
You haven’t aged a bit!