Like most little girls, I had a massive collection of Barbie dolls when I was young. And despite the issues of body dysmorphia and other negative connotations they can create at a young age, some of my favorite memories involved Adventures in Barbieland. They were my opportunity to imagine the world of grownups, which seemed light years away at the time. And they were always having adventures in their Barbie Camper (which naturally required them to change their clothes at least 8 million times).
My favorite days were the ones where my sister would venture upstairs and play with me. She’s 3.5 years older and was right on the border of being too cool for playtime, but occasionally I could coax her into a Barbie-fest. Most importantly, my sister had a Malibu Barbie (Ironically named “Tropical.” No really, that was her name), which I would covet something fierce. She had amazing long blond hair right down to her perfect Barbie-buttocks, came with her own sunglasses and heels, and (despite being from the exact same mold as all of my Barbies), seemed to be the prettiest of the bunch.
My sister also had the only Ken Doll. It was completely unfair, as Malibu Barbie didn’t just have the best hair and the best clothes, but she also got the hottest guy, conveying a premonition about social structure that would later rear its ugly head again and again from youth onwards. Instead, my Barbie’s only got to date the only other ‘eligible’ doll we had – a Michael Jackson action figure (as you can see, I used the world eligible very, very loosely), who’s hand was permanently clutching his microphone. Baby’s first groupie…
When I spied this dress in Kitty Girl Vintage, she was labeled with the tagline “Malibu Barbie.” And when I slipped it on this morning it brought back all kinds of memories, particularly of the Barbie Dream Life I once aspired to. In those days of merrily playing in the attic, I remember fervently wishing for everything that Malibu Barbie had: I wanted my own Ken with his permafixed smile, perfect hair, and a Barbie Dream House to play in (complete with working elevator). I imagined perfection meant my own Barbie corvette, my own grown up world full of a glittering social life, ready and prepackaged into a sealed box, available for purchase in the toy store (perfect Ken sold separately). I wish I could have whispered to my 6-year old self that Nerd Barbie has a few tricks up her sleeve as well.
In particular, I wish I could tell her that perfection can get very wearing. And that Tropical, for all of her seemingly perfect life, was probably also struggling with things that weren’t immediately visible. And that someday, Nerd Barbie would grow up, dump Michael Jackson, move around the world (4 times!), and have a fabulous career (Nerd Barbie would become Dr. Barbie thank you very much). She would marry Ken’s quieter but far superior next door neighbor, Tech-Nerd Ken, and realize that corvettes really aren’t all that fuel efficient. And all the while, she would make mistakes, get her heart broken, lose people she loved, and be perfectly imperfect.
And hey, there’s nothing saying Nerd Barbie can’t also have a fabulous wardrobe…
Dress: Kitty Girl Vintage (similar modern or vintage here & here near identical here)
Headband: Modcloth (similar)
Necklace: Laonato (similar)
Handbag: Gift (similar here & here)
Shoes: Gift (similar here & here)
Lip Color: Schiap