Did you have Barbie in your childhood? How old were you when you got one and do you remember how did that happen?
I did not have one. Although I had – probably, Chinese – copy of the original, called Susie. I wanted her so badly that I even prayed to God in the evenings, and always hoped that there will be this plastic creature under the Christmas tree or next to my plate on the eve of my birthday (weird family tradition for birthdays).
But it did not appear until my sister travelled to the United Kingdom for the first time (it was a huge happening back then, in 1993, half of the people of our village came to say goodbye to her). And she brought me Susie.
I was delighted! And so happy! Susie was the perfection of womankind to my eyes.
By the way, the original, Barbie, was invented back in 1959. Since then, all dolls represented infants, but Barbie was the first one to fill in the gap in the market with adult body.
Still, looking at this doll back right now, one thing that I still remember, are her tits.
You know why, I guess?
They were cold. You would not want to touch them. And creepy, because the thing I wanted to see most of Susie’s anatomy, were nipples, but she did not have them. Not to mention that she, of course, did not own pussy of her own, of course – Susie was meant for the girls of my age like I was back then. Twelve, ashamed of the changes my body was going through, a girl who already menstruates and has tits (with nipples), and is called “a fat one” because of that reason in school.
Of course, I loved my Susie also with these horrible tits – she had such long legs, such beautiful waist, and such beautiful, naïve facial features I could never have. But owning her did not help to start loving my body, and probably Susie was the unconscious reason (together with various other reasons) why my late teenage crisis took the form it took back then. In other words, I think, Susie and all the messages it embodied, was the reason why in pretty sad period of my life I unconsciously decided to jump in another “little box” myself.
I was fifteen when my parents divorced. As it always happens with teenagers, I felt angry, sad and lonely – no wonder, a world of mine collapsed. And I drew anger towards myself. I had anorexia, and that was a bad experience which later had an impact on all of my life as a grown up woman and still has. I will return to anorexia also in another of my stories, but I think, the crisis could be in another form if I had not this picture of the perfection in my mind back then.
During my teenage years, during anorexia, I experienced my body exactly the same way as de Beauvoir writes –
it was a consequence of a process of internalizing the view of it under the gaze of others.
Not to mention that my first platonic love was a classmate who owned a body of Barbie – she looked like a walking Barbie herself, she had graduated model school and was, a perfection of womankind in my sixteen year old eyes. She actually was the one who helped me a lot while I was going through the hell of freezing, weakness and stopping to menstruate back then, and was a great support. On the other hand, I learned that if you want to please others, you should be pretty as a picture (or, as a doll).
Soon it changed, and instead of my anorectic 43 kg I have gained weight up to 109 kg in half a year – because of the medicine doctor gave to me (my mum got me to see the doctor as soon as she noticed that I am too thin). Doctor also told me that it is possible that I can never have children even if my menstrual cycle renews itself. And so I kept on living – half worthy, continuing to hate my body. I think that, however, was the reason why I started to read loads of books. I have always been a reader, but the hate I felt toward my body encouraged me to develop my mind.
When did I learn to accept my body, how did I learn to love it? Christianity helped a lot. And, of course, discovering my body as a source of pleasure in later years. By the way, I still think that
there is no difference in how you look, and if you’ve shaved your legs – the most important thing which human beings carry within themselves, are invisible. I truly believe that.
But I shall never forget Susie who showed me that impossible ideal (we all know that, if women of such anatomic structure existed, she wouldn’t be able to walk or even to stand). And sometimes, when I see small girls in friend’s homes or in parks playing with their Barbies, I always wonder – indeed, what would Barbie look like if God created her? Susie, to my mind, was created from dust. Not quite from Biblical dust, but from those of our environment system. And I still wonder what she did to me, and what various kinds of Barbies actually did to all of us, women of that age.
What would Barbie look if God created her?
. . .