Describe your experience with Barbies.
I got my first Barbie when I was around 3 or 4 years old. My mum had Barbies as a child, and being the most popular girl’s toy around at that time, it was natural that I, too, would play with Barbies. I have been told that I wasn’t all that interested in Barbies to start with. I don’t really remember playing with Barbies very much when I was young, it was more Bob the Builder, cars, lego, Little People, that sort of thing.
As I grew older, I began to play with Barbie more and more. My collection was growing quite large, because that was almost all anybody ever bought me for my birthday and Christmas. Not that I was complaining! There was nothing I loved more than playing crazy, silly games with my cousins, or opening up a brand-new toy and looking at the instructions in all the different languages.
My mum bought me a lot of Happy Family around that age, and I am ever thankful for it, because of the sheer number of Happy Family stuff I have now! That stuff is expensive, man. Whenever I saw a new HF set in the shops, I was soo desperate for it. I just had to complete my collection! (not that I ever did, mind you)
At 5 years old, people at school stopped liking Barbies, saying it was for babies, and brought their Bratz to school instead. I immediately hated Bratz. Not only were they ugly, ratty and had weird feet, they weren’t Barbie! So I kept my Barbie collection a secret, but knew I would never get rid of it. I couldn’t imagine not playing with Barbie. So I just didn’t.
(Actually, there was a point in 2011 when I discovered Barbie was destroying the rainforest with the packaging, so I gave away a lot of my Barbie stuff and refused to watch any of the movies, listen to the songs, etc.)
In 2009, my obsession reached a new level. I had discovered that Barbie had a Wikipedia page (shocking, I know). I began to learn all about Barbie, and it’s history. It was so cool that the doll I was playing with was actually 50 years old. I discovered a whole world of collectors and older Barbie fans, and it was amazing. In 2013, it hit a new level again. I went on Mattel Shop so much that I had memorised the prices for almost every single item available at the time. I made my own Barbie magazines, trolled eBay for the latest dolls and started to learn about all the different facemoulds and more indepth Barbie history.
Were you allowed to continue playing with Barbies for this long?
Allowed to play, yes. Allowed to buy new ones, no. Since I was so young, I obviously couldn’t go to the shops on my own, and my parents would never let me buy any Barbie stuff when I was with them. Where would I get the money from, anyway? Since I looked up Barbie products almost daily, the desire for a new doll was crazy. When I was allowed to visit the shops on my own, a few months before my 15th birthday, I bought a Barbie. And it was amazing. Since then, I haven’t stopped buying new things. I don’t think I would be able to.
How do you feel about Barbie’s competitors?
When Bratz was banned and the company began to produce Moxie instead, I was terribly relieved. Whew! Barbie’s biggest competitor was gone! I knew Moxie wouldn’t last for more than a couple of months, and it didn’t. But then, a few months later, they introduced Liv dolls and I realised that they had completely taken over. How could this be? I was horrified. What if they stopped making Barbie? I didn’t know what I would do with myself. Years later, Monster High was introduced and Liv stopped being an issue, I sort of came to an acceptance about the fact that Barbie would always be competing. It was obvious that MH sales were higher than Barbies, so obviously Mattel was going to pump more money into MH than Barbie. From a business standpoint, it made sense, and I knew this.
What irritates you the most about Barbie?
This is less about Barbie, and more about where I live. THERE ARE BARELY ANY PRODUCTS AND THEY ARE REALLY EXPENSIVE. For example, looking for Made to Move Asha? Nope! (I know she’s exclusive to some stores, but when those stores aren’t available in my country, how is that fair?) Almost all of the dolls available are white, and that really irks me.
Also, the new Fashionistas being unarticulated. Apart from Made to Move, I have not seen an articulated doll in the store for YEARS. And yes, I know there was the LitD dolls, but they never arrived to my local stores. And the Barbie Style range? We only got the unarticulated ones.