Barbie and I are the same age…
… and “she looks mahvelous!” (a la Billy Crystal)
By Lori Hope Baumel
The very day this article is launched into cyberspace I will be turning 55. I am elated. It’s a pinnacle age. Old enough to mentor and teach others what I’ve learned, yet young enough to continue to intellectually grow. My old companion, the Barbie doll, will be featured in a special exhibit at the Norton Museum this summer and, like many women of my era, it will bring back wonderful memories.
You see… Barbie and I were born the same year. By the time I was old enough to play with her she had become the doll every little girl wanted. The toymaker, Mattel, whose owners named her after their own daughter, hit the jackpot with their new product. The first dolls sold for $3 each. She was my companion during rainy summers when we couldn’t go outside or when no one could come over and play.
Barbie and I have seen so much change over the years. Unlike the children of today, I only had ONE Barbie, as did most of my friends. I was lucky, because, over time, I was given a Ken doll and eventually a red haired “Midge” (Barbie’s best friend). I was content to dress and create imaginary scenarios with my three, approximately, 11.5 inch tall pals. When asked what I wanted for my birthday, I often answered, “a new outfit for my Barbie.” The tiny clothes were sold in thin flat boxes that displayed the dress and matching accessories.
Controversies would ensue when little boys wanted to play with her as well. She grew up in the fastest changing era of our times and certainly had her critics. “Too perfect” the naysayers would complain. “Not a good influence” the women’s rights advocates exclaimed. Most of them were right. But, back in the 1960’s, I was a curly haired little girl who simply felt like Barbie was my confidant. She was the first to hear my stories, listen to my made-up songs and danced to “The Twist” or the latest Beatles hit right alongside me.
Over the years, Barbie wore more than dresses. She seemed to evolve as my own life and times evolved. When the feminist movement grew stronger, she wore bell-bottomed pants, an astronaut suit, became a doctor, drove a Harley, and sang Karaoke and rap. Her abilities seemed limitless. I would drop by the “Barbie aisle” in department stores and amaze myself at how far she had come up in the world.
In the mid-1990’s, my own daughter amassed her own Barbie collection. No longer did we buy one doll and outfits separately. It became the trend to buy one doll per outfit. Also a favorite birthday party gift, I’m almost certain we had at least 40 Barbie dolls by the time our daughter, Rachel, was six years old. As a matter of fact, in 1997, I remember reading an article stating that Mattel decided Barbie’s waist size was unrealistic and they actually widened it. This comforted me, because after delivering three children, my waist had widened as well.
Due to the advent of video games and all the devices that currently are over stimulating the youngsters of today, Barbie’s popularity has waned. Her appeal has been limited to preschoolers and kindergarten age children. A multitude of new trends have taken over the hearts and minds of the elementary school set.
So Barbie… dear old friend, as they say in the theater business, “we’ve had a good run.” You’re old enough to warrant a museum exhibit now. I look forward to reminiscing and visiting with you and your friends at the Norton Museum. I am sure you will continue to entertain generations of young children for years to come. Just keep evolving. Everyone remembers “his or her” first Barbie.
Live… Go… Do!
Top 5 for July and August 2014
Wheels and Heels
Some 55 years after arriving on store shelves, Barbie dolls, Matchbox cars, and (a decade later) Hot Wheels cars, remain not only popular, but relevant. That’s quite an accomplishment in this digital era.
The NortonMuseum of Art’s 2014 Summer Exhibition takes a playful and in-depth look at these iconic toys – the miniature car, epitomized by the Matchbox and Hot Wheels brands, and the “teenage doll,” Barbie. The exhibition, Wheels & Heels: The Big Noise Around Little Toys, is on view through Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014.
The exhibition will fascinate audiences of all ages while looking at the history and impact of these beloved toys, which first found popularity in the years following World War II. “In many ways, these toys helped teach Boomers to be consumers,” says Guest Curator Matthew Bird, Associate Professor of Industrial Design at the Rhode Island School of Design. “The first car or dress that a child fell in love with was a miniature, but the thrill of ownership was enduring, and informed how that child became an adult. Although we accept these toys as familiar parts of our cultural landscape, they were nothing short of revolutionary at the time they were created.”
To tell these toy stories, Bird has assembled numerous editions of the toys themselves, as well as vintage advertisements, design drawings, television commercials, and the marketing publications that helped fuel the feverish desire to have or collect these toys.
Visitors young and old will enjoy the nostalgia that this story invokes. As cultural icons, these toys are not uncontroversial; the exhibition will also look at their impact on society, contemporary art, and media.
Also, visitors will be able to view hundreds of related objects, including Barbie’s 1964 theater, 1964 college dorm, and a number of her houses, horses, and dogs. There are Matchbox racetracks from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.
As with last summer’s popular LEGO® exhibition, Block by Block: Inventing Amazing Architecture, Wheels and Heels will feature an interactive playroom. To add to the excitement, Museum admission will be free to Florida residents every from Thursday until Sept. 4, 2014. – Norton Museum Press Release
For more information see: www.norton.org
2) Listen to the Audie Award winning “Audio Book of The Year” by Billy Crystal:
Still Foolin’ ‘Em
(Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?)
Hilarious and heartfelt observations from one of America’s favorite comedians. A look back at a remarkable career. Including the story behind his famous line, “You look mahvelous,” made popular by his appearances on Saturday Night Live. As wise and poignant as they are funny, Crystal’s reflections are an unforgettable look at an extraordinary life well lived. Narrated by Mr. Crystal himself! Also available in hard cover and eBook formats.
Audible.com is perfect for the beach or relaxing on a hammock this summer. I highly recommend downloading the audible.com app and catch up on your summer “reading” – the audible way.
3) Check out what’s happening at:
The Cultural Council of the Palm Beaches
Current & Upcoming Gallery Exhibitions 601 Lake Avenue
At the Cultural Council’s home in downtown Lake Worth, 2,500 square feet of flexible gallery space showcases ongoing temporary exhibitions focused on art made in or unique to Palm Beach County. The exhibitions educate the public about art and artists, and provide exposure to artists in Palm BeachCounty so they can be more successful. The gallery features long exhibitions and each month will also showcase additional, one-person exhibitions.
Southern Exposure: New Work Now
Solo Exhibitions: Three Figuratively
Figurative artwork has been practiced since man first began to draw primitively on stone. This exhibition examines the work of Yury Darashkevich, Jacques de Beaufort and Scherer/Ouporov who paint the human form in varying media and style. Working on canvas, wood and glass, each artist paints figurative images that are purely representational, fixed in an emotive state, or derived from a mythological construct.
Through August 16, 2014
For more information go to:
4) Go to a summer movie:
Summer movies are often fun and lighthearted. There’s a wide array of offerings for all ages this July and August. To see what’s coming up soon go to:
5) Have a laugh:
Legally Blonde The Musical
Struts It’s Stuff At
The Lake Worth Playhouse
The international award-winning hit Legally Blonde The Musical is coming to the Lake Worth Playhouse. Winner of 7 major awards including the coveted Best Musical 2011 (Olivier Awards) this all singing, all dancing romantic comedy is about knowing who you are and showing what you’ve got!
Elle Woods can handle anything. So when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her she decides to follow him to HarvardLawSchool and win him back. With some help from newfound friends Paulette, Emmett and her Chihuahua Bruiser, she learns that it’s so much better to be smart. – LW Playhouse press release
For more information go to:
- Preview Night is Thursday, July 10 at 8:00 p.m. ($23 & $27)
- Opening Night is Friday, July 11 at 8:00 p.m. ($38 – includes Opening Night Elegance)
- Evening and Matinee Performances will run July 12 – July 27 at 8pm and 2pm. ($29 & $35)
- Dinner & Show Night is July 10th and includes a 6:00 p.m. pre-show dinner at Paradiso, an upscale Italian restaurant in downtown Lake Worth, prior to the 8:00 p.m. performance. The all-inclusive dinner/show package price is $55 and includes a three-course meal and premium seats for the preview performance.
Lake Worth Playhouse is located at 713 Lake Ave in Downtown Lake Worth. Valet Parking is available for $5. Street and lot parking is also available.