As a kid I was completely craaaaaazy about Barbies. I remember going into department stores where I'd stand in the Barbie aisle and fantasize about being accidentally locked in the store at night all alone. Just thinking about the intoxicating smell of all that brand new, smooth Barbie plastic totally energized my hyper little self. I knew exactly what I’d do if I were lucky enough to have this happen!
After the doors were locked and all the store staff were gone, I'd leap from my hiding place in the middle of the circular clothes rack and eagerly free all of the Barbies from their gorgeous, perfectly designed pink boxes! Then I'd rip open the Barbie dream house, the Barbie corvette, the Barbie RV, and all of the Barbie furniture and clothes. I would forgo sleep and create wildly fun scenarios all night long until the security guards found me completely blissed out in a gigantic heap of heavenly Barbie doll goodness the following morning! Awww, man! I'm getting excited just writing about this scene now! Maybe it could still happen!
I currently have 10 Barbies or Barbie-type dolls (like Donny and Marie Osmond) and some are over 40 years old now. I've been so attached to these toys that I’ve been hauling them around in a box, storing them in our attics and basements ever since I got married and left home 23 years ago. In all of those years, I've only taken them out a few times to share with visiting children who needed something to do while Pauly and I chatted with their parents.
Geez! I love my Barbies so much but I don't use them at all. Why have I kept them this long?
Well, today I finally realized why I haven’t let them go. I'm not done with my Barbie stories yet.
I didn't have a Barbie dream house as a kid, but my dad lovingly built me a deep 3 leveled shelf that was to function as a doll house. I was so excited for my Barbies to get their own place! We got carpet and wallpaper samples and Dad carefully glued them in place so each shelf became it’s own room. The room I recall spending the most time in had lush, thick green carpet and a dark green, fuzzy baroque damask wallpaper. It was the 70s and I loved all of the luxurious glam!
It'd be helpful to offer a little Dana the Barbie Lover background first. I was an evangelical Christian preacher’s kid and sometimes it got pretty darn intense.
For example, if anyone knocked on our door with the intention to convert us, my dad had given me very strict instructions as to what to do. I was to get a chair, reach up in the top shelf of the coat closet, grab a pamphlet and walk through it with them, pointing out the Bible verses that indicted where my religion was correct and theirs was not. There were separate boxes for each of the "wrong" religions so I could easily direct my comments towards this suspicious and overly assertive door-knocking sinner. We had the true beliefs, all other non-believers were lost, and the lost people were literally going to BURN IN A LAKE OF FIRE FOR ETERNITY so I needed to be ready to do my job!
This particular ideology leaked into my Barbie dolls' lives too. My best friend, who lived across the street, came over often to play Barbies. We had so much fun dreaming up different adventures for them! They had jobs, they went on vacation with their pals, and the dolls were always switching up the boyfriends. I only had one Ken and two adorable Donny Osmonds - they had their hands full with so many ladies!
One day we were playing and my friend announced that her Barbies were going to attend church - the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I could NOT believe my tiny ears! “OH NOOOOOO, THEY AREN'T!” I immediately thought. She’d hit a raw nerve with my vigilant, little Christian self.
I stood up and angrily yelled that ALL Barbies in my house were to be Christians! She was a bit surprised by my screaming and yelled back. No! Her Barbies were members of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church!
Our Barbie doll play came to a screeching halt. I loudly informed her that this play date was over. No Barbies committing THAT egregious of a sin were allowed to do such a thing in my brown and orange shag carpeted basement. I wouldn’t stand for it.
I remember this whole ordeal like it was yesterday. It felt so terrible to be yelling at my best friend over this, but I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I had to do the right thing. For Jesus. So she picked up her stuff and left.
As kids do, we quickly got over that event and went back to playing Barbies, probably a few days afterwards, but our exchange continued to haunt me. Several years later my friend moved away and when she and I reconnected as adults, I made it a point to apologize for my behavior that day. Thankfully, she had forgiven me long ago.
Even now as I sit and recall this event, I feel sadness. I’m sad that a belief (which is simply a repetitive thought) could be the source of such unloving behavior. And if we have the ability to think any thought we want, why would anyone choose a belief system that leads to less love?
I know why I chose the way I did, because I was living in fear of an angry God. And the thought of a judgmental, angry God’s punishment is enough to frighten people into doing incredibly unloving things to themselves and to others.
It makes them yell at their friends when all they really want to do is play Barbies with them. It causes Kentucky county clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It creates huge rifts in families and it ignites wars. The Inner Bully/ego in each of us is fueled by fear.
Living with the thought of a loving God/Source/Cosmos creates more love. And in my experience, living in fear of an angry God who judges and punishes tends to create thoughts and actions that breed separation and more fear.
This is why I now want to remember to question all of my beliefs. At any time of the day or night, I have the ability to think any thought I want.
Is this thought coming from love or from fear? The source directly impacts how I feel as well as my experience.
Thanks for visiting the blog. I'd love it if people felt comfortable commenting or engaging with any of these thoughts.
And no worries about your Barbie dolls! I know for a fact that they're gonna be okay.