wvfc-barbieIf you’re a girl and you’re a boomer, one thing is certain—you grew up playing with Barbies.

Whether you lived in a mansion or in a trailer, you spent hours as a little girl playing with America’s favorite foot-tall plastic fashion plate. You dressed her up in stylish clothing (remember “Silken Flame?”), complete with tiny matching shoes that were always falling off and getting chewed up by the dog. You sent her off on dates with Ken. You staged pajama-clad heart-to-hearts with Barbie’s best pal, Midge. 

Barbie play was designed to prepare you for the wonderful world of romance and dating. And that future was always wholesome and bright. (There was no Unplanned Pregnancy Barbie or High-School Dropout Barbie.)   

Of course, the edgier kids could always improvise. I know one girl who, after seeing the movie Gypsy, had her Barbies perform strip-teases for her Kens.

(Okay, so it was me.)

And I know of at least one future lesbian whose Barbie enjoyed marathon make-out sessions with Midge.

Barbie has been updated and modernized countless times since she first came on the scene in 1959. (Although her shoes still fall off and the dog still chews them up.) These days, Barbie doesn’t just don cool outfits and go out on dates. She has a career! 

Teacher Barbie! Pop Star Barbie! Airline Pilot Barbie! Brain Surgeon Barbie! Rabbi Barbie!  Porn Star Barbie! (Okay, I made that last one up.) 

But one thing about Barbie never changes. Her age. While the little girls who once played with her have grown and matured, Barbie hasn’t aged a day.  

Now that we boomers are middle-aged, we’ve discovered that it’s time to play Barbie again, this time with our granddaughters. 

This gives me idea. 

I think we need a new kind of Barbie. A Barbie who, like us, HAS grown up. When we get down on the floor to play with our grandkids, instead of a fresh-faced know-nothing who is just starting out, why not introduce the kids to a Barbie that reflects both our lives and their future.

Middle-aged Boomer Barbie! 

What better way to signal to our granddaughters that there’s more to life than what outfit you’ve got on? And that while teenage dating is great, so is being a mature woman with a rich, full life?  

This new line of AARP-aged Barbies could include:

Happily Married Barbie

Now that the kids are grown, Silver Fox Barbie and Slightly Balding Ken can re-focus on each other. Includes a Dream House with a paid-off mortgage, a zillion frequent-flyer miles, fat 401(k)s and matching Medicare cards.

Happily Divorced Barbie

After Barbie catches Ken and Midge making whoopee in the Dream House mudroom, help her kick him to the curb and jump back into the dating pool. Assist Barbie in crafting her Match.com profile, then dress her up in tiny Eileen Fisher outfits and sent her out on exciting dates! 

Cougar Barbie

She may be in her 50s, but she loves those younger dudes. (For her date, just borrow Ken from your regular Barbie. She won’t mind—he’ll come back to her a much better lover.) 

Never Married Barbie

Includes a Xanax prescription, a tiny plastic vibrator, 3 cats, a library card, and a tenured position at an Ivy League University. 

Billionaire Barbie

Comes with 4 mansions, 3 ex-husbands, a private jet, a personal trainer, an unscrupulous investment adviser, and an offshore bank account. 

Out and Proud Barbie

Help Barbie and Midge shoot their “It Gets Better Project” video! Includes a rainbow flag, a Massachusetts marriage license, matching white tuxes and a Provincetown time-share with a signed Alison Bechdel original in the foyer. 

Every Boomer Barbie is slightly shorter and plumper than Original Barbie, and comes with at least one ailment (bad knees, a bad back, cataracts, etc.) to kvetch about with the other Boomer Barbies. (The deluxe model has genuine hot flashes!) And all of them talk, saying things like  “Where did I put my glasses?” “Is it hot in here? “Can you repeat that?“ And “At least I have my health!” 

The best Boomer Barbie of all, of course, will be Grandma Barbie. 

What better way to enjoy playing with your beloved granddaughter than for the two of you to help Grandma Barbie play with her beloved granddaughter? 

Grandma Barbie reads books, sings songs, plays pretend, makes cool snacks, and gives great hugs. If you’re lucky enough to be her granddaughter, you know there’s nobody Grandma Barbie loves more than you. And shouldn’t a cool grandma who loves you to bits be just as much fun for a little girl to play with as a vapid teenager who gets dressed up and goes out on dates? 

Not only that, but Grandma Barbie’s stylish yet sensible shoes will never fall off and get chewed up by the dog. 


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  • Penny Hastings October 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Love the Boomer Barbies fun. A few other ideas: How about Sporty Grandma? That’s how my granddaughter refers to me…I took her hiking, taught her to play tennis…and she was an avid fan at my women’s soccer team’s game. Or Silver Fox Barbie? Making it so glamorous to be gray-haired that she can hardly wait to get there? Well, that may be an exaggeration. Thanks for the chance to revisit Barbie and imagine her grown up.

  • Sandy January 14, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Funny story! I’m one of the older boomers and I was 12 when the first Barbie was introduced. Too old to play with dolls. I was a Ginny doll lover. She was much prettier and less fake looking than Barbie

  • Kelly October 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I love this!! it’s hilarious!

  • hillsmom September 30, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Too funny Roz! I’m forwarding this on, also. Please send Granny Barbie…will she tuck the boobs in her waistband?

    However, I’m before the Barbie craze. But when my M-i-L sent one to my DD, I wouldn’t let her have it. She had a Raggedy Ann and some stuffed animals which included Snoopy with costumes. Wait, wait…I’m wrong. I forgot about some Madame Alexander (was that it?) dolls also sent from my M-i-L. Those she did get.

  • jody September 30, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Odd that I was just thinking of my favorite Barbie this morning as I dried my hair…..
    Mine had a perfect “bubble” hairdo which my mom said made her the “classiest” Barbie. Wonder what happened to her? And what was so exciting about dressing and re-dressing a plastic woman? But I did it for hours at a time. Love your Barbie line, roz!

  • Jan Eliot September 30, 2013 at 2:21 am

    This is hysterical. Really funny Roz! I love it. Sending this on to friends in South Africa and beyond!

  • Kate September 29, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Wait a minute — when we were kids and I’m a boomer, Barbie was a grown up woman. Barbie changed into a vapid teenager sometime in the late 70s early 80s.

  • Emily Kelting September 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Too, too funny, Roz! You’ve outdone yourself with this one… Loved it!

  • Roz Warren September 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Best comments EVER. Thanks everyone for sharing those special Barbie moments, and information about temporary nipple tats and Barbie-as-sex toy. Who knew?

  • Leslie in Oregon September 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Re your first sentence, Roz: I am female and a boomer, and I did not grow up playing with Barbies. Never had one, never wanted one, never played with one. The closest I have come to Barbies was when my son, a 6-year-old gymnast, enjoyed hurling straight up in the air Barbies his soccer teammates lent him, to see what gymnastic stunts he could get them to do. They were aerodynamically perfect for that!

  • Tobysgirl September 28, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    My riding teacher broke her Barbie’s knees to put Barbie in two-point (jumping) position. But the best I’ve heard was a material culture historian who said one of her interviewees masturbated with Barbie; she didn’t need a vibrator, she had Barbie.

  • stacia September 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I didn’t get a Barbie until a friend of mine worked for Mattel and gave me a Collectible High Fashion Barbie that came with her own tiny passport, a lacy corset, gold lame slacks and a fur-trimmed brocade coat with the obligatory heels and sunglasses. I was 50! Barbie was, well, whatever. I never played her because she didn’t seem like the type who enjoys spontaneity. But I agree with Sally Bahner that the doll of my childhood was GINNY!

  • Toni Myers September 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I had a Toni doll. My daughter was born in 1972, I was in full feminist fettle and did not want to buy her one. Fortunately, grandma came through.
    I love your collection. You should copyright immediately!

  • abeidler September 28, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    Love this! My mom would not let us have those “ugly-hussy-Barbie” dolls. So I too had a Ginny doll to play with. She wore less make-up and had a more sensible figure. I really loved playing with her. We also had 2 amazing small Shirley Temple dolls sent by my very generous aunt. Their legs had hinges! My sister and I would make play-houses out of big storage boxes and beds out of cracker boxes. Our only male dolls were cloth dolls sent by my Grandma who was living in Puerto Rico, so they were dark-skinned “island men” and our play-families were multi-racial. . .although we did not know that at the time! I LOVED playing with those dolls!! My daughters were much more into playing with stuffed animals and my little pony horses.

  • Sally Bahner September 28, 2013 at 11:10 am

    But… But… what about Ginny dolls from the 1950s? I loved them and still have mine — Jill (I think she was prettier than Barbie), 2 Ginnys, and Ginnette (the baby).

  • Elizabeth Vivenzio September 28, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I would add those of us with “Barbie Boobs,” which are bare mounds after mastectomy and during breast reconstruction. We often teasingly use this term. The final step of breast reconstruction is permanent nipple tattoos. However, this step has to be postponed until all revisions are complete or else they would be off-center. That is why I invented the patented Rub-On Nipples, which are temporary nipple tattoos that last one to two weeks and are easily removed with alcohol. Check out our educational topics on this and other breast healing topics at BreastHealing.com.

  • Diane Dettmann September 28, 2013 at 9:34 am

    Somehow, I missed the Barbie craze. I played with a Revlon doll that had pierced ears, fingernail polish and a swivel waist. She’s so old now that when I took her out of the doll cabinet, her girdle fell down to her ankles. Miss Revlon was a more straight laced lady whose shoes fall off too. Great article, Roz, love the boomer Barbie idea!

  • B. Elliott September 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I just loved this! So funny. Cannot wait to share.

  • Andrea September 28, 2013 at 8:03 am

    This article is hysterical clever and relevant. I’ve shared it with all my Facebook friends!!