I used to play with Barbies way longer than girls should. It was awkward to admit then, and it’s awkward now.
I suppose I should get over the embarrassment since I’m 27 and my mom says I'm not supposed to care what people think.
But, as I approached middle school, I distinctly remember feeling ashamed. My two friends and I were too old for dolls, like kids that are way too old to be breastfeeding.
We would have likely gotten raised eyebrows from strangers, had they been allowed in my room and seen our Barbie setups.
We’d make little Barbie houses out of blocks and dress them in fashionable poufy 90s clothes and make up story lines and have the dolls talk to each other.
(The Barbies’ names weren’t “Barbie,” just so you know. We had far better names like Samantha and Tess and Roxy and they were all best friends and walked their poodles together.)
We spent hours on these Barbie houses, but we had no loyalty.
Once, my older brother’s friend came over, and we were so embarrassed that they would see our dolls that we annihilated our set-ups in 30 seconds, blocks flying under the bed, Barbie dolls stashed in book shelves, their blonde hair getting tangly.
“It’s not that we like playing with Barbies,” we would tell ourselves. “We just like designing their houses and stuff. What’s wrong with designing houses??”
(We ignored the fact that we also bought, and enjoyed, Barbie comic books.)
I don’t remember the exact day we stopped playing with Barbies, but it was sometime after we all went to different middle schools and found different interests, like sneaking into movie theaters and wearing eyeliner. (Totally up Roxy’s alley, by the way).
I never pined for playing with the dolls once we retired them, but I do remember it was the most fun I’ve ever had playing with a toy. I can’t even think of another toy that I used to play with growing up.
Oh, wait, Skip-It. God, I loved Skip-It. (THE VERY BEST THING OF ALL! THERE’S A COUNTER ON THAT BALL!)
Once I graduated college, I completely forgot about all childhood toys until a friend showed me a game that was EXACTLY like my Barbie fun.
It was called The Sims, and it was basically a virtual world where you BUILD HOUSES and DRESS the characters in poufy fashionable clothes with STORY LINES and MAKE THEM TALK TO EACH OTHER.
(Why, oh why, did we not trademark our Barbie game???)
The Sims was perfect, especially since my friend had some “code” where you had an unlimited supply of money in which to build your perfect dream house, with glass walls and a pool if you wanted.
Oh my God I was in love.
I bought the game for myself (CD-ROM, old school) and spent hours developing my “Sim” character (Samantha) and built her a sick mansion and got her a job at the local newspaper, go figure.
I even got to be “neighbors” with my friend’s SIM, and thanks to the Internet, I had lots of SIMS friends — many of whom would have made fine Barbie players ten years prior.
Unfortunately, the only computer that had Internet in the house at the time was in the living room, and my roommates didn’t find the game quite as, um….cool as I did.
One roommate in particular, Kristin, had no patience for the “retarded, made-up game” as she called it, and would berate me every time I clicked on my SIM, making her go to work and take out the trash.
“STOP BEING A LOSER!” she would say. “GET OFF THE COMPUTER AND LET’S DO SOMETHING IN REAL LIFE WITH REAL PEOPLE.”
She kind of had a point. I did spend one evening building a second story (um, hello, with a hot tub) instead of join my friends at a nearby restaurant.
Kristin got my other roommates involved with making fun of me and the game, and I was finally bullied out of playing entirely.
I hadn’t thought about Barbie or The Sims (or any wholesome fun for that matter) for some time now, until I saw the movie Toy Story 3 last week.
I was pleased to see that Barbie plays a big role in that movie. Of course, they kept her name Barbie. How…blah.
The movie was about how kids grow up and don’t play with toys anymore, and the toys miss them.
They miss getting played with and participating in the fake storylines, blah, blah, blah.
I thought about my Barbies, probably still packed away in a box in my house in New Orleans, since my mother refuses to throw anything away.
Is Barbie Roxy upset with me, like the movie suggested? Does she miss her pink Jeep and her TV? What about the poodle?
I know my SIM certainly doesn’t miss me. That bitch is hooked UP with a million dollar house and a pool. But I bet the trash really, really needs to be taken out.