The Things I Thought I Wanted: Real Barbie Paper Dolls or a Deeper Authenticity?

paper-dollsBarbie Paper Dolls.  Oh my.  How I wanted these!  Of course I look back on this grand desire of mine and I wonder why.  I ask myself why this wonder woman with the impossible figure, cute clothes, and a long string of suitors so caught my attention . . . but maybe I just answered my own question.  Barbie was, and very well might still be, the paragon of Cool and Smart.  A model of Beauty and Sophistication.  Fun and Adventure.

And she had the cutest clothes and shoes.  Maybe it was this that so drew me into her Barbie world of pink Corvettes and hip pool parties.  It was only implied that Barbie was wealthy, but how else could a girl be so cool, perpetually-unemployed, always ready to party, and have any boy she wanted.  Her Funhouse did not come with a bundle of Barbie-size funny money, but we could all imagine her taking a bath in a tub of $100 bills.  In short, Barbie was pretty danged cool to a little girl living in a North Dakota farm town.

In an effort to assist me in my realizing the Barbie Dream, my Big Sisters made us our own homemade paper dolls.  These facsimiles may have failed miserably in the Cool Factor, but they made up for it exponentially in the Effort Department.  While Mattel was not about to go busting down our door to rob us of our yet-to-be-patented North-Dakotan version of Barbie (a doll that swore freely in Polish, wore galoshes, and whipped up funeral hotdish to take to the church in her Barbie kitchen), the Dakota dolls earned an A+ in creativity and fine craftsmanship.

The dolls were made by meticulously cutting out desirable models featured in magazine advertisements, which were then glued to the equivalent of light poster board.  I remember the girls using the light cardboard insert that came packaged with my father’s new shirts or the empty cereal boxes from the kitchen.  Gluing the models to the cardboard was cause for concentration.  It involved using the just-right amount of glue to prevent bubbling and wrinkling in the wrong places.  We’re talking Knock-Off Barbies here with the end goal of Barbie Perfection, and the dolls could not afford an unseemly bubble or wrinkle in an inappropriate place.

After the glue had thoroughly dried, the laborious task ensued of cutting out the outlines of the dolls and the tricky spaces between the arms and the body for those models who held their hands on their hips.  This was all done with blunt-tip school scissors and a pair of dull sewing shears that my mother kept by her sewing machine.  We could not afford fancy craft knives, and our parents were not about to entrust the Big Girls with a box cutter.  They used what they had, and I have to hand it to them for keeping a steady hand.  While it would have been easier to have dolls with their arms glued to their sides or completely away from their bodies, the Big Girls were committed to their craft and kept the arms-akimbo models alive in our collection.

Next came the clothes.  The dolls were traced to typing paper, and then cute dresses and pant suits were drawn and colored.  My sisters had this process down.  I suspect that there was a fair measure of failed attempts before they learned to put the doll face down on the paper so that the tracing lines could not be seen in the dress or top.  Again, those arms-akimbo spaces had to be cut out carefully from all fashions.  I now know why so many of the outfits were sleeveless — thus removing the necessity of cutting those spaces out of fragile paper.

paper dolls III.jpgAnd all I can say is a resounding Chapeau! to my sisters for learning how to place the fold tabs just so, ensuring that the dolls’ outfits would stay put and not just fall off.  I am sure that Ken would have appreciated the latter consequence, but the big girls were fashionistas who wanted their designs to remain on the dolls.  It was a lesson in critical thinking and trial-and-error, is all that I can think.  I remember when one of my big sisters learned that if you cut the fold tabs with an added angle, the clothes stayed on even better.  I fully expected this sister to go on and become a Barbie-style engineer, such were her talents with the Barbie clothes.  Such was not the case, but she grew into one sharp cookie when it comes to design.

The sisters made faux-mink stoles and evening gowns.  Gingham dresses and sweater sets.  They made outfits for a picnic and for the repetitive First Dates with Ken.  All I can say is Ken must have had a lot of imagination to create the illusion of a first date over and over and over.  Either this or Barbie had suffered amnesia as a result of crashing her pink convertible.  Still, either option explains why Barbie didn’t stray from Ken. Ken kept the relationship alive.

Ultimately, the dolls cut from the ads became templates for my sisters moving on in the design world and creating their own paper dolls from scratch.  These dolls included Barbie’s trademark ponytail swirl and other popular hairdos at the time.  They drew faces on the dolls and cleavage that would peek out of an evening gown.  Some of the faces represented some of Modigliani’s or Picasso’s earlier work, but I didn’t care.  And in spite of knowing that these dolls were a far cry from the delicate-featured authentic Barbie paper dolls, they certainly made me feel included — like I was part of a Girls Club that was all about being creative with what we had and not focusing on what we didn’t have.

paper-dolls-iiLooking back, I wonder if I didn’t intuit and recognize a Deeper Authenticity in the paper dolls that my sisters made.  What started out as Barbie knock-offs became their own style, their own brand.  I remember them discussing which models from the ads would make a better sample or how to make a more tab-friendly swim suit.  Perhaps it was the fashion discussions or watching their faces filled with preoccupation as they cut and traced that drew me in.  Perhaps it was the girl-power camaraderie to which they allowed me, littlest sister, entrance.

I remember the dolls’ edges becoming mildly curled from an over-zealous pencil tracing the dolls one too many times for the Fashion Department.  Once the edges on a doll began to curl, the clothes didn’t stay on so well . . . so new dolls needed to be made.  And I, being the youngest and most lacking in fine motor skills, received the cast-off dolls.  Talk about a win-win.

My preference now?   What I wouldn’t give to come across some of the paper dolls that my sisters made.  Alas, our house suffered a fire after we moved into town from our drafty, roomy, once-upon-a-time boarding house on the prairie. No paper dolls were recovered. But they live in my memory.  And in my admiration for my big sisters who knew how to get creative when resources were scanty.  I thought I wanted fancy and new and Mattel-sanctioned dolls that every other little girl in the consumer market had . . . but what I really wanted, and received, was the love from the Big Girls who were nice enough to include me in their World of Fashion and Creativity.   Thank you, Sissies.  I remember your creative kindness.  It is the sort of thing that I will always want and treasure.

Barbie Paper Dolls- The 1959 Number One and The 1964 Ponytail Swirl

http://amzn.to/2bVC5x2

 paper-dolls-iii

OK Go Saturday Dance Music

time-to-dance-high-heeled-shoes-285661_960_720

theunseenwordsproject.com

If you haven’t seen an OK Go video, then you are in for a treat.  These videos are super clever!  Take a few moments this morning to appreciate some fanciful videos, listen to some good dance music, and get up and start moving.  The thing about OK Go, they don’t spare any creativity when it comes to representing their music.  Have fun today!  It’s Saturday!

There is a reason why this video has over 53 million views!

And this is just plain fun!

Here are a few fun things to entertain your Saturday . . . music, Legos, book!
Of the Blue Colour of the Sky

http://amzn.to/2cJ6NtO

Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit

http://amzn.to/2cpPBNK

Mistakes That Worked Paperback

http://amzn.to/2cpPaCM

time-to-dance-high-heeled-shoes-285661_960_720

theunseenwordsproject.com

The Things I Thought I Wanted: a diary with a lock and key . . . and the thing about secrets

diary-1449287_960_720Oh, how I wanted a diary when I was a girl.  You know the kind . . . a beautiful girly girl’s diary with a lock and key.  And I was simply ecstatic the Christmas when I was ten years old and I received one.  Mine had a navy blue cover with gold embossing and “1 Year Diary” gold-stamped into the cover.  I simply loved it!  I can still remember the sound that the gilt-edged pages made when I opened it for the first time . . . It felt like that crinkly sound was opening its pristine, glued-together pages to the secrets I was about to share with it.

Well, that’s the thing about secrets.  No matter how much we try to preserve them or hide them from the prying eyes and inquiring minds that intersect our life, they are [sometimes] doomed to be discovered . . . paraded . . . maybe even disrespected.  We feel violated when our secrets have been made public without our permission.

It takes a lot of risk and guts to commit a secret to the page . . . a lesson that I was quick to learn at this young age.  My hopes of finding my true self via those gilt-edged pages were temporarily dashed when my big sister read my diary entries aloud — pages that detailed my first big crush [Dean W.], in front of said crush, who was my big brother’s best buddy.

maple-leaf-638022_960_720I learned a lot that day about secrets and sisters and writing and locks and keys.  I learned that just because something has a lock on it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be jimmied open.  I learned that secrets can be made un-secret when they fall into the wrong hands.  That, although it can be risky, it’s okay to be honest with my thoughts.  That what someone else chooses to do doesn’t define who I am.  That although I might feel a wee bit discouraged, I am going to keep writing.

It took some time to view things from my sister’s perspective.  I learned that people do things that they don’t really intend to be hurtful in long-lasting ways.  That what might seem funny at the time, never really was in the first place. And that sisters somehow stick together, even when they do things that aren’t very nice.

french-1040839_960_720I am happy to have survived the awkwardness, and — now all the stronger — I have maintained my love and discipline of writing.   And in the ways of true forgiveness, I have since pardoned my diary-reading, secret-disclosing sister.  We are still the best of friends.

But you know how writing is.  It liberates us, even when life sort of sucks.  Writing asks us to pay attention to the details, even when it hurts.  Little does this sister know that she is the muse for an extremely unattractive, glowering villainess who gets her payback comeuppance in one of my current short stories.

But this is the way of writing.  You can change what is now by writing it into a different room or even onto a different planet.  Does reality change?  I don’t know how to answer this.  I only know how to live it.  And write it.  And tell my sister that I love her dearly, because I do.  And keep my journal hidden when she comes to visit!

Here’s a diary that would have met all girly-girl requirements when I was a girl:

Pecoware Butterfly Diary with Lock

http://amzn.to/2bowy5y

. . . and then I grew up and it shouldn’t surprise me that I am still just as interested in and attracted to items that record my thoughts.  I think that this pen is utterly beautiful.

Qulam Quill Set, 5 Metal Nibs and Ink Bottle

http://amzn.to/2bMsMmk

and now I am just wish-listing . . .

Handmade Leather Journal with Parchment Paper, Double Clasps & Polished Stone (9″x5.5″)Pendragon Series By Viatori

http://amzn.to/2cqZx8z

Roylco Antique Design Craft Paper; Assorted Colors/Designs, 64 Sheet Pack

http://amzn.to/2bWVBbo

Your choice. Choose you.

door. lock. unlock your dreams

theunseenwordsproject.com

Greetings, lovelies.  Today is a great day to Choose You.  

  1. Grab that key.
  2. If you can’t find the key, teach yourself how to pick a lock.
  3. Open the lock and swing the doors wide open.  You might be surprised to discover that you have actually, all this time, been the one who has been locked inside — not the other way around, with all this time thinking that your dreams are the ones that have been locked up and inaccessible.
  4. Step outside into the world of possibility and let your hair flow in the fresh breeze.
  5. Open your arms and embrace the many opportunities that are all around you.
  6. There are so many that are designed especially for you.  For you.  Believe.
  7. Step forth and choose.  You only have to choose one to make a difference in today.  Like choosing a puppy from a darling litter of adorable choices, pick the one that picks you.
  8. Nurture your choice.  Let it know that it is loved.  Feed it, water it, walk it, clean up after it.
  9. Groom your choice.  Brush it, bathe it, pick the sticks and burrs that get stuck when it is out running around and exploring.
  10. An opportunity is a choice.  You are worth the time and care that making the choice to choose you requires to nurture it.  Love who you are.  Believe in yourself.  Choose well.

Here is a really beautiful journal and pen set that I came across in my Amazon perusing.   Love this pen set especially.  Today,  commit your adorable opportunities to paper and keep them growing and thriving.

Handmade Medium Vintage Leather Journal Diary

http://amzn.to/2bOLP0C

Unique Beautiful Feather Calligraphy Dip Pen Set Writing Quill Pens

http://amzn.to/2cqg75W

Wednesday’s Prescription: Take a chill pill & blow some bubbles.

blowing bubbles

theunseenwordsproject.com

Make time for some fun today.  For blowing some bubbles.  For some journaling about your dreams and your happiness.  Enjoy today. 

Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine

http://amzn.to/2baPX5h

Gazillion Solution Novelty, 8 oz, 4 Pack

http://amzn.to/2bvO9Jf

Haktoys 1700G Bubble Gun Transparent Shooter with LED Lights

http://amzn.to/2baEdm8

And for your journal time . . .
Emotion Journal: Bubble Edition

http://amzn.to/2bFqYbq