As a child, the only toy that ever proved satisfying to my creative needs was Barbie, and not in the girly-girly “Yayyy, dollll!” type-of-way. I loved Barbie because it provided a creative outlet I didn’t find in videogames, sports, and boardgames. I could design her house, give her haircuts, glue fabric to make her clothes, create complicated plots starring my very big Barbie collection, and even sit her drown on my bed and draw her in my little sketchbooks.
Looking back, as funny as this sounds, Barbie’s impact on my life was drastic.
It was during all those hours bending over my dollhouse changing the colors of the walls, arranging the intricately designed furniture, and making my dolls clothes that I decided I want to be a designer, and although I was so young, it is one of my most vivid memories. I was spending the day with a childhood friend of mine, Aseel, and while we were sitting on the floor glueing beads and fabric to make dresses and spraying glitter on tiny chairs, the conversation moved to what we wanted to be when we grew up. That day I learned a new word from Aseel- “designer”, a job where we can almost play with furniture and clothes forever! We both loved the idea so much that we decided then and there that that was what we were going to be when we grew up.
The next many years saw Aseel and I preparing for our dream. We poured our effort into taking art classes together, sitting for hours with scissors and paper exchanging tactics we learned, making cards, dying our hair bright blue to look “artistic”, sitting on her family computer pouring over ‘MS. Paint’, and we even took painting and ceramics classes.
I lost contact with Aseel when I was around 16, then I saw her in the mall last year and we chatted for a few minutes, and to my delight, I found out that she was also studying design at some university in Dubai.
I find it amusing that we both got what we wanted, we both became designers, but Barbie, our childhood muse, is seeing red.
I’ve been reading about her decline for years now and witnessing it as my baby cousins replace Barbie’s graceful beauty with the aesthetic ugliness of Bratz. Today, a radical idea is being proposed: Kill her. Dead. End of brand.
Could it really be? Is Barbie really dying? Has she stopped providing creative energy to little girls?