A Barbie Revolution (Part 2 of 5)

Read the post from November 29th to catch up to today’s installment of A Barbie Revolution written by Ashley Schmuecker.

What did the planning process look like once you began meeting?

We usually had pizza or take-out and beer.  Why waste time cooking supper when you’re planning a revolution?  Sasha passed around the Barbie we had re-named Emma… [Emma?]

After Emma Goldman.  She’s Sasha’s favorite feminist anarchist, and her Barbie sort of became the mascot of our Revolution.  Anyway, we passed her around and started brainstorming ideas for liberating other Barbie dolls from their perfection.  We got this huge flip-pad.  I was the first to liberate a Barbie in my image.  Using a “Pretty in Pink Prom Barbie” I immediately tossed her shoulder-pad ball gown aside.  I chopped her hair off to her ears and dyed her hair jet black.  I used some old tanning bronzer on her skin ‘til it was rich, and multidimensional in tone.  Using Emma’s unicorn tattoo as inspiration, I bought some black tribal tattoos from the fifty cent machine at Pizza Hunt and made a tattoo sleeve on the Barbie’s arm. I dressed her up in J.I. Joe’s combat boots and an indigo silk nightie, borrowed from another Barbie.  Some women did sketches at first, and then they began practicing on Barbies brought in from when they were kids.  When those were used up, we started practicing on ones we bought from the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

What other ways did you and the women liberate Barbie?

We each came up with different types of “imperfections” women have and figured out how to put those on Barbie.  For example, for hair, we brought in mini bottles of dyes and paints of purple, teal, black, red, orange, grey and started dying and cutting and shaving hair.  The hair we cut and shaved off we snipped up into little bits to use to attach the under Barbie’s arms and on her pubic bone and legs. We used clear adhesive glue for that.  For skin imperfections, we drew on freckles, moles, birthmarks, and scars.  One woman decided she wanted to make some of the Barbies different skin tones.  She used different bronzing sprays, sort of like I did, but she began combining different layers of shading to get black, brown, olive, and any shade in between.  Oh yeah, and the boobs.  Those disproportionate plastic bumps needed to be filed down.  There’s a girl in our group, Amina, who can file a pair of Barbie boobs down in thirty seconds.  We filed them down to different shapes and sizes.  Some were pointy; sometimes we made one bigger than the other, sometimes we filed them down completely.  It made the night of our revolution go so much faster when Amina was in charge of filing duty.

Tell me about that night.

Well, the girls and I stuffed black backpacks with our “tool kits”, and headed out at different times to go to the mall and wander around ‘til closing.  We luckily recruited one of the girls who worked at the toy store to be part of our team.  The mall closed at eight, and we had all hidden in various bathrooms and janitors’ closets.  Luckily, none of us was caught.  For a couple months we had been tracking the routine of the security guard.  A fresh-out-of-high school punk on a power-trip; who was easily followed around by Tiffany, the girl seventeen year old drill team captain who worked at the toy store.  After closing up the shop, and meeting me in the bathroom to hand off the keys, she requested the kid to escort her to her car.  She led him all the way across the parking lot to her car, where she had slashed her own tire before walking into work that afternoon.  Claiming she had no idea how to change a tire, she kept the guard busy by making him change the tire.

Meanwhile, inside, we got a mass text from Tiffany at 8:13pm that said “do it to it bitchez!” It was hilarious to see us with our tool kits, sneaking around from each corner of the mall; it kind of played out like a low-budget action film as I watched our mismatched group of revolutionary women sneak over to meet me at the gate.  I opened the gate with the key Tiffany had passed off to me just a few minutes before.  We pulled the creaking metal gate closed behind us, and worked in the dark, apart from the head lights we had strapped around our foreheads.  I remember saying, “Alright Barbie Revolutionaries! Let’s ‘do it to it’ and liberate these dolls!” We formed our assembly line.


About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on November 30, 2010, in Activism, Arts and Crafts, Body Image, Feminism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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