Do you or your well-meaning relations buy dolls for your children? If so, are they the sort that come in boxes and drive you mad with their skinny, long-legged siren call to mass anorexia? Their distorted forms leading to a warped self-image for girls to comply with in order to satisfy imagined or real male desires?
How I hate these dolls and their smug, insidious grip on female self respect. Subjugation of half of the world’s population by the other half, no less than foot binding, organ-deforming corsets from the past and laws today repressing women’s rights to be educated, drive cars and wear what they like in public without harassment.
Above is Serial Mum, who’s finally understood what those jars of blue liquid in hairdressers are for. Not that she goes much – once when she got married and again last year to sort out her daughter’s unintentional dreadlocks.
But, Barmie Dolls. They work for some people. With a name that sounds like a herbal root remedy for insomnia – and she may be for some – Valeria Lukyanova (pictured below) models herself on 29cm of attenuated plastic, topped off with a bushel of nylon fibres for hair. Certainly something to aspire to, and as a Breatharian, pretty low maintenance for a hot date. Just open the window to let some light and air in and you’ve brought her the equivalent of a 3 course meal at Nobu.
No, I don’t want to be skinny and don’t want dolls to influence young girls to stop eating healthily. I’ve tried the 5:2 diet myself and it doesn’t work. It wasn’t so much the food and the drink I missed in the intervening time, but what got to me was the constant clock-watching to see when the two minutes were up and I could start eating again.
There are alternatives, girls. A close relation of mine had an unusual doll. When she was small, her young love and devotion was poured out on ‘Jemima’. Jemima* was a large tin of Tomato Juice. She carried it – sorry ‘her’ – everywhere. Why waste money on miniature pink sequined ballgowns when you can buy your child a favourite toy which, after they’ve gone to bed, can double as the second biggest ingredient in a Bloody Mary. Just replace it the next day if need be. You see consumerism can be our downfall, stops us from thinking creatively.
*I’ve changed the real name to protect her identity.
A few years later, same little girl was given a Barmie doll. With her father, they sheared off Barmie’s hair, dying it purple and yellow, before subverting the genre entirely by dressing it in black and painting the face with scary make up.
But maybe this is what everyone does at home?
And let’s hear it for the ultimate subversion – Conchita!
Yes, how exciting! a genuine rush for anyone who doesn’t want their child pidgeon-holed by a male-biased industry chugging out little boxed role models by the container load.
Personally I’m thrilled to see the winning entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 is a man dressed as a woman. Like a prettier, more hirsute Shirley Bassey and a name meaning ‘sausage’, Conchita Wurst has sent tremors through the conservative establishment overnight.
You will be able show your sons too that they can look thrilling in a lamé frock, and won’t be judged by appearances.
My only concern is that coming soon to a Crap-R-Us near you will be …..
Now, don’t start getting any more fancy ideas, Valeria. Being Ukrainian, I don’t think your country or your close neighbours, Russia will be stocking anything like this on the shelves next Christmas. On the other hand, nice to be reminded that Vladimir Putin is a big fan of Elton John. Beard or no beard.
I just take it all as a clarion cry to chuck away our tweezers, and have it all grow out. Come on girls, let’s get bearded like the lion, as Shakespeare once said. (Sorry Will, I know you didn’t put it quite like that). It’s a small start, but I feel, once we can be accepted for our facial follicles, then the battle is more than half won.
I’ve been thrillingly shortlisted for a Brilliance in Blogging Award in the Readers Choice category by Britmums. Or a ‘Brit Award’ as I’m telling my friends. So here are two jokes. Not beardy ones either.
1. Never trust an atom – they make up everything.
2. What did the proton say to the neutron? Are you voting in the local electron?
Brilliant – made me laugh & nod my head in vigorous agreement! My 7-yr-old son loves accompanying me to the Body Shop… last time we were in there he sampled so many body sprays he ended up smelling absolutely amazing. I reckon it doesn’t do him any harm to get in touch with his feminine side!
Thanks Emma! As long as your son doesn’t grow up squeezing into your best party frock just when you’re about to put it on. On the other hand, if it helps him win Eurovision he should definitely get in touch with his feminine side.
Fabulous! I’m pleased to say my daughter has never had one of these and prefers to be strong rather than skinny, but then she is only 8 and currently heavily influenced by her big brothers.
And long may she continue to be strong! Older brothers do seem to have a helpful influence – just watch out for Madonna symptoms though as she had lots of older brothers: PVC bodysuits and whips may not be such a good look on the sports pitch. x
A fabulous post Jo. Luckily my daughters hated dolls & much prefered Lego and playing with cars – my mother may have been ever so slightly horrified.
Glad you like it Izzie – funny isn’t it what a generational thing it is. I think my Mum and yours were cut from the same cloth. We grew up with Barbie’s British cousin, Cindy. It did make an impact as my legs are now approximately 6ft high (after long and slightly uncomfortable sessions on a Tudor-style rack).
Really made me laugh. Brings back memories of my own vandalised Barbies…
You too! Would be fascinating to start up a blog and ask people to send in photos. Might end up with a Jake and Dinos Chapman brothers exhibition. Or has that been done?
Perhaps we could put together a Jake and Dinos Chapman type exhibition? Or has it been done?
I played with with my brother’s Action Man… He originally looked masculine and butch but by the time I’d done a make over on him with my felt tips – he looked like Boy George.
I’ve seen that ‘lady’ before (the plastic looking one) All I can say is she needs several years sat in front of a psychiatrist…
I still have the one and only doll that I’ve ever truly loved. Coincidentally we’re alike now with pudgy bellies and scarecrow hair.
I loved this post – it made me laugh. x
Ha! Love the Boy George lookalike! Not what Army Recruiting are hoping for I imagine.
Yes, she’d have to sit in front of psychiatrist and not on the couch – unless there was an 8ft one and her legs would be sticking out of the door like Alice in Wonderland.
You think we grow to look like our dolls then? One of mine was a tubby, hollow-headed doll to whom I fed morsels (cut a hole through it’s mouth) from my dinner in private. Months later, my Mum called in Rentokil who tracked the decomposing smell to said doll, hiding in my locked cupboard after removing its head. Hope I don’t resemble her. x
Hilarious! Reminds me, need more vodka. Solves next birthday present for young son: Conchita doll is just the thing!
My girls had a couple of Barbie dolls they chewed the feet off of them. That was the extent of dolls.
I’ve seen what your family does to stuffed toys, so frankly am not in the least surprised bit.ly/1sOXH09
So funny, loving the doll vandalisation. I wasn’t going to let Barbie in our house but you’ve made me reconsider, just so we can trash her up. Awesome. #loudnproud
Thanks Jude, but don’t tell Mattel or they’ll do a hard sell on a new ‘Grunge Barbie’ range in time for Xmas!
My girls had a smattering of these hideous dolls but thankfully were never particularly enamored. I was actually disappointed to see that Conchita was actually modelling her/himself on Barbie – wouldn’t it have been better to see an ageing, fat, beer-bellied man in a dress doing the same song – do you think he/she would have won then?! Sadly Barbie’s legacy does not seem to be dead yet 🙁 Thanks for linking to #loudnproud.
Ha ha! An ageing, fat etc man in dress. Makes me think of Dick Emery and somehow, think he might not have received many more than ‘Nil Points’. We do live in such a dreadfully sexist society don’t we. That’s why I loved the story of my young relation and the tomato juice, although when I showed her the post she said that her Dad got the story slightly wrong and it had been Pineapple juice – much more exotic 🙂 (though was traumatised when she found her mother one day taking the lid off with a can opener..) She told me she also had a doll that was a hot water bottle until it burst (maybe its waters broke), so am glad there are kids out there who can enjoy the simple things in life. Glad to link to #loudnproud and very best of luck in getting thro to Finals of BiBs 🙂 x
Fantastic point and brilliantly presented! I love the tomato juice doll! Did it have to be the same bottle or could mummy replace it after using it for Bloody Marys?
Thanks Jess! Well, apparently she was only about 3 so they might have pulled the wool over her eyes every night. After the incident with the can opener, (see my explanation above to Suzanne – 3 Children and It) she latched onto something even more bizarre. Since posting, I found out it was tinned pineapple juice, though I’m sure that would go down well with a vodka too. Perhaps we could try one at The Brewery! x