10 Lessons We Learned From Barbie

Love her or hate her, Barbie has been a part of our lives since saddle shoes and poodle skirts were haute couture.

These days, Barbie has to share shelf space with Disney princesses and Monster dolls, but she knows she isn’t going anywhere. Her thousand yard stare and serene smile tells us she knows she is here to stay. Which is good, because Barbie still has generations of young people with whom to impart her wisdom. Barbie is more than impossible measurements and blond hair. There is more to Barbie than her accessories and shoes. Barbie has many lessons to share:

    1. Life is capricious. Sometimes, life is like a bored 10 year old girl with a ballpoint pen and scissors. You end up with a butch haircut and prison tats. Other times, life is like an uptight controlling mother and you end up lonely and protected in a box. Often, the best we can hope for is to be forgotten, naked, and rolling around in a box with all of our friends.
    2. Having knees that bend both ways is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, knees that bend both ways might be helpful if you find yourself in a hostage situation and need to Houdini your way to freedom. The other side of that coin is no matter what party you go to, someone demands that you show their drunken friends your freaky, bendy legs.
    3. Sooner or later, your head pops off. No one gets a pass on this one. Hopefully, for most of us, our heads pop off figuratively and not because an older brother yanked off the head and threw it out a window for a laugh.
    4. Not all Barbies get a dream house. Not all Barbies get the townhouse. Sometimes, instead of a pool, Malibu Barbie has to use the bathroom sink as a tropical paradise. Not all Barbies get the sporty convertible. Some Barbies have to be content with an empty tissue box as a mode of transportation.
    5. Shoes should be treated with respect. Even if there is something terribly satisfying about chewing on little rubber shoes and then walking around with them stuck to your tongue, doesn’t mean you should. No one wants to wear shoes filled with chew marks and spit.
    6. Life means dealing with disappointment. Maybe, Barbie had it all. The house, the car, the shoes, the tan, but her love life? When the lights went down and the clothes came off, Barbie saw Ken and was disappointed in a way most of us can never imagine.
    7. We all have a Skipper. Occasionally, we have to deal with the perky and the eager. There are times when these people enter our day before we can toss back a few cups of caffeine. It’s not their fault they are annoying, they were designed to be annoying. Barbie never lost her cool with her little cousin, even when she insisted on being a part of the Barbie car wash. We should all take our cue from Barbie and be nice and accepting, even when dealing with a Skipper.
    8. Opposable thumbs rock. Maybe, Barbie could bend her legs in ways that border on disturbing, but her hands were just useless. Barbie couldn’t carry an adorable clutch, she could only drape accessories over her arms. Every time we tried to wedge something between Barbies 4 stuck together fingers and her thumb, we were reminded of the blessing of movable digits.
    9. Have a problem? Do the splits! Barbie might be impaired a bit with her fused together fingers, but she could do the splits. Makes no difference if she’s dressed for the beach or in her wedding dress, at some point in the day, Barbie would drop down into a perfect split. Imagine doing that. Your boss yells at you for playing games on your phone. Before he can work up a full head of steam, do the splits. Odds are, the conversation ends right there. Don’t do the side splits, though. Barbie teaches us that the side splits could make your legs break off at the hip.
    10. Be gracious. Do you think Barbie doesn’t notice these younger dolls with their dewy eyes and freakish makeup? She sees their clothes and doesn’t dismiss them with a sneer or a ‘skank’ whispered under her breath. Oh no. She smiles, gives  the royal wave, and accepts that her way will not always be the only way. She accepts her aging and that younger dolls are now part of her life. She does so in dignified clothing though because,  damn, have you seen some of those other doll’s outfits?

As we age, we need to remember these lessons that Barbie so selflessly taught us. We  wear our ‘good’ yoga pants, smile,  and nod at the young girls in their booty shorts. We appreciate that we don’t have a wad of cloth shoved in our crotch area.

There are a few lessons that Barbie taught us that we should probably shed. I mean other than striving for ridiculous measurements. For instance, blue eye shadow rarely works. Also, always standing on our tippy toes eventually causes foot cramps.

One last thought. Use extreme caution when practicing number 9.

What life lessons did you learn from Barbie?


64 Thoughts.

  1. In spite of never having had a Barbie she taught me an important lesson about gender. I loved Star Wars and collected all the action figures, and then one day I heard my mother tell someone “They’re dolls for boys.”

    So ‘fess up, guys: we’re not fooling anyone with that “action figure” crap. We played with dolls. And considering all of Barbie’s other careers it’s not unrealistic that she could have flown the Millennium Falcon too, if she hadn’t been too freakishly tall to fit in the cockpit.

  2. So funny! Barbie’s solutions to everyday problems…the best…doing the splits! 🙂 Too much laughing for so early in the morning. Thanks, Michelle!

  3. I never played with dolls. I learned that girls who didn’t climb trees and ride bikes weren’t the right kind of friends for me. I guess as an adult I’m not comfortable with women who spend a ton of time with their appearance. What’s the was shoved in the undies? Guess my Tom boy girlhood puts me at a disadvantage.

  4. Hi M,

    I learned that I was gay, bc I hated her and any other doll that someone tried to give me. Unless said Figure was Big Jim and his army tent.

    Also- guys call them action figures, but they are damned dolls.

    Thanks for the post. Made me laugh.



  5. My daughter was playing with her Barbie dolls the other day and my son had out his wrestler “action figures.” She innocently asked to play with his dolls and he stormed out of the room yelling, “ACTION FIGURES! THEY ARE ACTION FIGURES!”

    My memories of Barbie as a child are filled with guilt. Because I used to cut their hair and then blame it on my brother with serious dramatics; crying, wailing, throwing myself on the floor. I was such a little asshole.

  6. The shoes, suction and spit. I can relate to that. And when Barbie had nothing to wear, she got new crocheted dresses and pant suits. God, I hope no real person relates to Barbie while wearing a crocheted pant unit to the office meeting with the boss!

      • OK, Briana just brought me the flash drive with both of your videos on it, and:
        The LTYM video was funnier than reading the same story on your blog. You did well on the stage. I’m impressed.
        The moderator girl on Huffpost Live was slightly annoying, but I thought you looked and sounded good. So did Briana, who wanted me to tell you that you do not, in fact, have googly eyes…

  7. “When the lights went down and the clothes came off, Barbie saw Ken and was disappointed in a way most of us can never imagine.” Best written word on the internet today, LMFAO!!!

  8. Well… I never had barbies. My cousin had barbies and all the good stuff that went with it…dream house, corvette, boat, you name it she had it. I remember bending her knee and thinking OMG… her knees crack! Gross! I never did get the barbie thing… when my daughter was little she wanted american girls…of course she did… they were $120 each!
    I tried to get her barbies…nope… american girl…
    But… barbie taught me that everyone looking the same was boring, regardless of the clothes or toys, stripped down she looks the same as everyone elses barbie. Made me feel sorry for her lack of uniqueness…

  9. I had a number of Barbies (spoilt child alert!). You’re right about the smile…she was unfazed about whatever I did to her (including completely messing up her hair!!)

  10. Well this is a blast from the past! Barbie taught me to appreciate having 3 older sisters who built up the B-wardrobe for years before I came along. Also, that beautiful cocktail dresses with matching handbags hand-crocheted by our grandmother never went out of style and ALWAYS looked classy. And my Suntan Barbie was way cooler (and perpetually more youthful) than my sisters’ anemic versions (until one sister incorporated her into a late night art assignment in college and… well, it wasn’t pretty). Barbie is one of the few toys you can hold onto and pass down to your daughters without them screeching, “Ewww! She’s sooo old looking!” thus rendering you ancient. I, too, drove B around in the zero-wheel drive kleenex box, shoe stuck on my tongue. We never had a Ken (that creepy eunuch). Oh, and my dad called my mom Midge. What was that about?

  11. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this! As for #9, it’s been a looooong while so I think I’ll pass. I have no desire to rip stuff. Like hamstrings and whatnot. I’ll leave the whatnot to your imagination…..

  12. Barbie needs another reason to go on living. My dog chewed mine up, because I left her in the backyard, and she looked like ten miles of bad road. She was out there because her barbecue was over, her guests had gone home, and she was passed out on the lawn. That’s what happens when your husband refuses to grow testicles and a penis. You hit the bottle, big time.

  13. I loved this! “Often, the best we can hope for is to be forgotten, naked, and rolling around in a box with all of our friends.”

      • Yeah, because with the gag reflex thing, all your friends would be vomiting along with you, naked, rolling around in a soggy box. Which sounds like a line from Orange is the New Black. A group of women who would love Barbie, and who may, or may not, love Ken…

  14. “there is something terribly satisfying about chewing on little rubber shoes and then walking around with them stuck to your tongue.” Baaahaahaaaa! I had totally forgotten about this! I did it ALL the time. My Barbies all went barefoot the great majority of the time. Unfortunately, Barbie taught me some unrealistic expectations – that my skin would always be firm and smooth and that my breasts would always be perky. I’ve been deeply disappointed.

  15. LOLOLOL. #9

    And speaking of haircuts, Barbie taught me that not everyone’s hair will “feather”.

    And that pasted-on polite smile has been my social go-to expression forever…!

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