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Naperville
Thursday, April 25, 2024

Transitions – Girls and dolls

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Dolls bring up intense feelings for many girls and women. 

When I was an adult, my mother told me she had only one store-bought doll, and she accidentally broke the porcelain head the next day. When I gave her a collector doll that Christmas, she wept. My special doll was a 24” Black doll who walked when her arms were moved – and at her age, she needed a hip replacement. 

So now there is Greta Gerwig’s billion-dollar Barbie blockbuster film. One point of the film is that Barbie provides a stage for adult play beyond motherhood. I was past playing with dolls when Barbie first came out. My daughters had a few, but their favorites were the American Girls. 

American Girls were out of our price range, but just right if distant grandparents split the cost. With six dolls, they eventually had plenty to play with. I made clothes, and my oldest daughter bought furniture and clothes with some of the money she made in commercials. Her earnings went to her college education, but allowing her to buy fun things helped her focus in front of the camera. 

I was sad when I packed them away more than 20 years ago, but was overjoyed when I recently pulled them out for our two granddaughters, ages 5 and 7.  I might someday have more grands, so our American Girls and their paraphernalia are not allowed to mix with our granddaughters’ American Girls.

Except for the American Girls, our granddaughters have so many different kinds and sizes of dolls that dolls don’t mean as much. In fact, their usual resting place reminds my husband of a mass grave.

We also gave our two girls and granddaughters trucks, but it seems their best imagination play was and is with dolls and their stories.

Women’s roles are evolving, which is what the Barbie film portrays. Let’s hope it helps lift up expanding opportunities for our girls, and their demand for respect from boys.

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Barbara Blomquist
Barbara Blomquist
Barbara Blomquist is a Naperville resident, wife, mother, quilter, and screenwriter. Contact her at BWBLomquist@aol.com.
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