Falling in and out of love with Barbie
I migrated to Australia in 1985 at the age of 10 (well 10.5). The world to which I arrived was vastly different from the one I left behind, Communist Poland. Barbie and her world of accessories was one very distinct cultural difference I never knew existed. I must have been at someone’s house when I first saw one. I wanted one, not so much because I wanted a doll, but because I wanted Barbie. For some reason, Barbie symbolised everything I didn’t have as a migrant kid who suddenly realised how little she had. She looked polished, colourful, elegant, belonging to a world I knew nothing of. I, for one, felt at odds with my new world. The clothes in my suitcase didn’t match this new world, nor did my shoes. But Barbie’s did, or so I thought. I can’t quite remember whether I got one for Christmas ’85, or for my 11th bday in ’86, but I did get one. She had a pink suit jacket and skirt on with matching shoes and bag. She looked like she didn’t need anything or anyone else. I would play with her and my other dolls quite a bit at the beginning. But soon the the interest wore off. My other dolls didn’t quite match Barbie’s chic. And to be honest, I liked reading Marcel Proust a lot more (in Polish). Before I lost interest, I would undress Barbie from time to time, wondering as to why her body was the way it was, and why there was a need for Ken. He kind of felt beside the point to me. But I had no language to express this puzzlement.