Today’s Barbie doll has seen heaps of improvement from the past. After much criticism of unrealistic bodies, we now see a change in the body shape. The waist has widened, the bust is smaller with a more natural shape. You can find them in body variations like petite, tall, and curvy. Also, the eyes have changed from the huge doe eyes with saucer size irises from my childhood, to a more natural size and shape. I applaud Mattel for all these changes.
So what’s to become of old Barbie? What about these heaps of Barbie from the past that have been used, well loved and discarded. Barbie with matted hair with the rubber band melted in. Barbie with crazy proportions, wall to wall neon green eye shadow, sparkle lips, and outfits showing everything she’s got. Doesn’t she deserve a second chance?
My first goal with the New Life Doll Project is to find these old barbies second hand and breathe new life into them to promote natural beauty, modesty, and fresh starts.
I rework their face, recondition, cut, and sometimes resew their hair, and clothe them in more appropriate outfits. The clothes I choose are also second hand, a lot of them dating back to the 60s.
Secondly, growing up playing with this type of doll has given me a sort of personal connection to them. I look at these castaways and feel compassion for them. As I have worked on them, more and more correlations of what it means to be loved and deeply cared for by a Creator have surfaced in my mind. It wasn’t until I started working with dolls that not only looked inappropriate and overdone, but also mistreated, did my mind click on the deeper meaning in this project. These dolls are representations of real women with real struggles. Women who feel cast aside, damaged, worthless. Women who feel hopeless like there is no way out. I truly hope my project gives them some small feeling of hope, like change is possible, like healing is possible, like their future can be a beautiful and whole one.
When I begin with a doll I feel they are exhausted and in need of a rescue. When I finish, it’s like they’ve taken a big deep breath, ready to face tomorrow. Isn’t that what we all want?