Thursday, July 19, 2012

Death-Mask Barbie

For the longest time, I wouldn't let Rissa play with Barbies.  I was taking a stand.

We bought her Groovy Girls - the flopsy, cuddly, ethnic, pre-pubescent dolls.  She probaby had 6 of them - all sporting fabulous 60s-inspired fashions.   (One had a faux raspberry suede coat with some sort of shaggy fur-like trim - relax PETA - I said faux!)  Rissa would sit the Groovy Girls onto the bean bag chair and snuggle them in their retro sleeping bags.  Then, it all turned to shit.

When Rissa was 3 1/2, all she wanted was a Barbie.  I just couldn't do it.  I could not buy her one.  I had taken a stand!!  Yet it was all that she wanted.  Rissa never wanted anything.  Never.  It's still the case.  For Christmas, it's like pulling teeth getting her to request anything.  So when all she wanted was a Barbie - I admit it - I caved.  I tried to torpedo this defection in my best passive-aggressive way: I bought her a purple-skinned, purple-haired, purple-winged fairy Barbie.  A Barbie which, in no stretch of anyone's imagination, could be confused for human.  But I soon realized it was all down-hill from there.  Now that she had one Barbie, people assumed that I was okay with her having them.  The next spontaneous gift from someone was a regular ballerina Barbie - all sugar-plum fairy-y, blond, pink and curvaceous.

Then, the next thing I knew, she had a clique of Barbies.  I tried to keep them separate from the Groovy Girls because I knew, deep down, that they would make snide comments about the Groovy Girls and mock their clothing choices.  Soon, Rissa wasn't playing with the Groovy Girls at all.  My soul wept.  I had allowed the ruination of my darling babe.  (That being said, I played with Barbies all the time when I was little, I LOVED Barbies.  And  really, apart from an incredibly unrealistic body image, I turned out okay.)

I asked Rissa one day, "Why don't you like playing with your Groovy Girls sweetie?"  "I like Barbies better Mummy."  (Stabbing pain, deep in my maternal gut.)  I tried not to let it show upon my face.  Must be strong.  Must... be... strong...   "Oh?  Why sweetie?  Why do you like Barbies better?"  (I braced myself... I knew she was going to say they were prettier, had longer legs, bigger boobs...)  "Barbies heads are smaller."  And that, folks, it what it came down to.  Barbies heads were smaller.  When Rissa saw Groovy Girls' heads, they just looked wrong to her.  The Barbie head was more proportionate, in her view.

I should have realized when I really watched Rissa play with her Barbies.  She didn't spend a lot of time 'playing.'  She would cut their hair, put tattoos on them.  If a leg fell off she would make a prosthetic limb with a chop-stick and duct tape.  She would strip them naked and make death masks for them.

Death-Mask Barbie

One of my proudest maternal moments was coming down into the family room on a Saturday morning.  Rissa was watching Myth Busters and had a row of about 7 naked Barbies in front of her.  All 7 Barbies were covered in carefully applied kleenex fragments that she had painted onto their persons with water.  7 Barbies in body casts.  It was a beautiful thing.  I could have just about burst with pride at that moment. It still can bring a tear to this Mama's eye.  Yep.  THAT'S my girl!

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