By Carolyn Brown
In our ever changing world, can you think of a few things that never change? That question set me to thinking about, of all things, the Barbie doll, since that's what at least one granddaughter has wanted for birthday or Christmas or any other occasion that warrants a present. And the one unchanging thing that has been in my life forever...or so it seems!
Barbie is the one doll that has endured more than 50 years of little girls. Living through that much whining and giggling should get her one of those big awards like the Pulitzer!
I started thinking about fifty plus years of Barbie and how little she has changed during that time. Time has changed everything since 1959 when Barbie entered the world including her clothing and her accessories, but not that slim waist and long graceful neck. She didn't even have a cell phone in 1959 or a Tweety Bird tat, and just plumb forget about that dream castle and pink convertible. But she's still as beautiful as the day she was back in March of that year when she made her first appearance at the New York Toy Show. Anyone who can maintain a waistline that small and not even need silicone on the top half or a fanny lift on the bottom has to be downright amazing! I'm not a collector of Barbies. Don't have a single one in my house anymore. That does not mean she hasn't crashed at my house in the past or that I haven't gotten to know her through the years. I've seen her at her best in sweats one day and a Versace knock-off party gown five minutes later. I've seen her at her worst when I fished her out of the cold soapy water in the bathtub (she didn't have prune skin but her hair did), and all in between.
I remember when Barbie got her first car in 1962 and she went for rides in it with her boyfriend Ken, who by the way is two years younger than she is and I'm wondering if that's the reason she still looks twenty instead of 52. When her family extended to include a sister, Skipper and then a twin brother and sister, Tutti and Todd, she had someone other than Ken to talk to, and then her friends came along to round out her life. In 2004 she and Ken broke up on Valentine's Day (but they are still good friends and the tabloids say they might be working on a reconciliation according to my eight year old granddaughter.
Barbie has had hundreds of careers and has been to every major happening in the past fifty years. It's a wonder just that hasn't aged her, but, alas there she is in 2011, looking as young as ever. Just say the word Barbie and an instant image pops into your mind of a never changing doll with more baggage and accessories than a movie star. Do you think it's plastic surgery that keeps her so young looking?
There is even a Scarlett O'Hara Barbie and Rhett Butler Ken which brought my train of thought around to Gone With The Wind, one of my favorite books.
It was written several years before Barbie or Ken made their debuts but all the characters are froze in time. Scarlett O'Hara was just a teenager at the beginning of the book but when I reread it about every five years, she hasn't aged a bit. She's still a feisty southern belle with an Irish temper and in love with the wrong man. I still see her at that party with all the boys gathered around hanging on every word. And in her red dress going to the party at Melanie's house with Rhett. She still exactly the same as I pictured her back when I was a teenager and read the book for the first time, the same as she was when that Pulitzer prize winning book was written 75 years ago.
That made me remember all the fabulous women I've read about in romance books since I first picked one up when I was about fourteen. I still remember every one of them at the age they were when I read the books, looking just the same as they did on the covers. And those first characters that showed up in the books I wrote are still the same in the pictures in my mind. Angela Conrad is still a twenty eight year old country singer who was in love with Clancy Morgan (who did her wrong) in high school. She'd be forty two now if characters aged like the writers who bring them to life, but she's frozen in time right there on the front of Winning Angel, with her dark hair flowing and Clancy about to kiss those bright red lips.
People change. Times change. The weather definitely changes. Styles change and Barbie as well as book covers can attest to that. But characters and Barbie both stay the same. Thank goodness there are things, like Barbie, and romance characters that are dependable in these shaky times in our world!
Does the first romance hero and/or heroine remain the same in your memories as clearly as the day you read about them? Did you ever even think of them aging?