By Mariana Perez
I love watching my daughters play. Their carefree innocence and boundless imagination is refreshing! Every once in a while, a bit of nostalgia hits and I take a moment to think back to what I used to play with when I was a little girl.
Sometimes I’ll sit down at my computer with my 4-year old and I’ll show her just what my favorite toys were when I was her age. With the advent of YouTube, we can watch old commercials and giggle as we sing along to the jingles.
Cabbage Patch Dolls, Legos, Care Bears, Pound Puppies, Rainbow Brite, He-Man, She-Ra, Popples, Strawberry Shortcake, and My Little Pony all come to mind…
But my most vivid memories are of my Barbie dolls.
I remember “playing Barbies” for hours with my friends. We’d swap clothes and accessories, make houses and furniture out of boxes, and secretly envy the classmate that had the dream house AND the corvette.
My grandma would give me the scraps from her sewing projects so I could create wonderful new outfits for my dolls. If I was lucky, I’d get an old zipper, a few snaps, or even some velcro, too. As rudimentary as my sewing skills may be now, I learned it all from those countless hours I spent designing, cutting, and creating unique ensembles for my Barbies.
One cold day this past winter, I was browsing eBay and stumbled upon my absolute favorite Barbie – Jewel Secrets Whitney, from 1986 or ’87. I sent my husband a link to the page by instant message (I can’t be the only one that communicates with my spouse in this fashion!) just to spark conversation. Not being a collector, bidding on her never even crossed my mind… so I was blown away when I received the doll in the mail a few weeks later!
Whitney is just as beautiful as I remembered her to be. Her dark, flowing hair, slightly-puckered lips, and glitzy outfit are unlike that of any other Barbie I ever owned. I showed her to my daughter, and she was equally as captivated by her beauty. I think she could sense that this doll was truly special to me, and never once asked me to open the box.
She’d come into my bedroom often, to look at Whitney, admire her hair and her clothing, but still never asked if she could play with her. The doll sat on my dresser for months. Six to be exact. Until one day I asked myself – “What am I gaining from keeping this doll boxed up?”
So one summer afternoon, I opened the box. I’ll never forget the look in my daughter’s eyes when she saw what I was doing. It was a mixture of joy and bewilderment.
Being able to see her play with one of my favorite dolls from my childhood is priceless. Something I’d never thought I’d see. We spent what felt like hours combing her long hair and changing her outfits. We read the storybook that she came with over and over and over.
And then she went right back in the box on top of my dresser. Whitney is still MY Barbie after all. 😉
With her 5th birthday coming up, I’m considering buying my daughter her first Barbie. Only time will tell if she’ll treat her dolls differently now that she’s seen how careful I am with Whitney. I have a feeling that won’t be the case at all, and that she’ll be like every other little girl that dismembers her Barbies and cuts all their hair off! I’ve thought about maybe buying two of the same and putting one away for her, but it’s impossible to predict precisely what she’ll treasure the most. For now, we’ll continue playing with Whitney, which are moments *I’ll* always cherish.