But Mum, I really wanted a Barbie doll. Not a truck.
My late mum was PC long before the acronym had even been incubated.
I’m proud that she was a feminist in an era (especially in Queensland in the 1970s) when women were expected to be in the kitchen baking pumpkin scones, according to Flo Bjelke-Petersen’s now-world famous recipe.
Queensland women in the 1970s did not protest in street marches. She did.
Queensland women in the 1970s rarely went back to work after having kids. She did.
Queensland women in the 1970s gave their little girls Barbie and Baby Alive dolls as gifts. Umm. She DIDN’T.
Can I tell you just how devastated I was in my formative girly years to open my gifts on Christmas Day and find a Tonka truck or a Meccano set?
I mean, you can’t accessorise a truck (try as I may have done), can you? What was I supposed to do with a truck. I didn’t “speak” trucks. AT ALL.
And the bit I didn’t get then and still don’t get now … if mum really was all for gender equality and all that, why didn’t Santa bring my brothers dolls?
Everything would have then worked our perfectly. We all would have pretended to be interested in the toys that had come tagged with our names but by about the time the last scorched almond was scoffed, toybox equilibrium would have been restored
My brothers would have cast aside Pool Barbie and I would have gently nudged the truck in their general direction.
And maybe I would not have been left with the deep psychological scars (and shallow fashion obsession*) inflicted on me because of my Barbie-less world. You see, it’s a sad fact of life that we always want what we don’t have. When we’re banned from or told we can’t have something, it makes THAT thing more attractive and eminently more desirous.
So when my daughter was born, I decided to conduct a non-scientific case study. Her room was turquoise, her clothes were a mix of girly colours, navy and neutrals. She had dolls, prams, kitchens, her big brother’s cars, big cardboard boxes to play in … a seemingly balanced, bi-gender environment.
But get this, her first colour recognition at 18 months of age was holding up a chubby pencil and announcing “my purple”! We still talk about that moment. It marked her official entry into a wonderland of pink and purple. Everything in her wardrobe matched because it was either of these two colours. She got her first Barbie at two years of age and had amassed quite a collection by the time she was about 10.
Around that time I noticed a change, she wasn’t interested in “girlie” stuff as much. She allowed other colours to enter her wardrobe and she took up surfing. It was like she had had her fix and then found a balance that worked for her.
Meanwhile, I was left crying over the box of unloved Barbies that went to a new home to get the hair and clothing attention they deserved.
*I can blame my latter life obsession on all things fashion on my Barbie-less childhood, can’t I? Please say yes.
Did you have Barbie dolls as a girl? What was your fave? Shhh … here are some of mine.
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