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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Dolls Dolls Dolls-Getting all dolled up for adventure

Photo by Brandon Tompkins/The Collegian
Photo by Brandon Tompkins/The Collegian

By Katie Hudson-Martinez/feature editor

Photo by Brandon Tompkins/The Collegian
Photo by Brandon Tompkins/The Collegian

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but some little girls may beg to differ.

Since prehistoric times, dolls have served as confidantes and companions for little girls around the world.

“ They are fun to play with because you can make them say whatever you want,” Jada Martinez, a 5-year-old doll enthusiast, said. “Barbies are my favorite because they have nice hair, and you can change their clothes a lot.”

From paper dolls to baby dolls, Barbies to Bratz, the seemingly endless variety of dolls appeals to young girls as well as the young at heart.

Their evolution has spanned centuries with the first rudimentary examples made from clay, then wood and wax before porcelain and plastic became popular in the mass production phase after World War II.

And just as doll-making materials have changed over the years, so have their attire, hairstyles, accessories and attitude.

“ Looking at antique dolls is almost like reading a history book; each says something about their time,” Linda Weaver, who deals in antique dolls, said.

On prominent display in Weaver’s shop, a pair of 1970s showgirl dolls adorned with headdress and rhinestones stand defiantly next to a 1950s Barbie in modest dress with horn-rimmed glasses.

“ The older dolls, you can see that they come from a much more conservative time, with long skirts and homemaking accessories,” Weaver said. “Some of the dolls coming out today have fishnet stockings, high heels and miniskirts. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t approve.”

Dolls have faced other criticisms in the past.

Barbie dolls have been accused of fostering negative body image. The proportions of her 11.5 inch body are physically impossible to obtain in a human woman. She would be 7 feet tall, 110 pounds, have an 18” waist and her legs would be so long they could not support her, she would have to be in a wheel chair and her body fat so low she would not be able to have children.

But for all the fault suggested by the inaccurate proportions, Barbie has also been celebrated for promoting female independence.

Since the very first Barbie dolls ever made in the 1960s until the present day, she has been a career woman, who doesn’t necessarily need Ken but may like to have him around sometimes.

She has been a teacher, a veterinarian, a doctor, a firefighter, an Air Force jet pilot, a Nascar driver and a paleontologist. In 2000 she was president of the United States.

She is financially well-to-do with her own mansion, pool, jeep, boat and pink convertible.

Barbie is not necessarily destined to become a homemaker, unless her owner so desires.

But many young girls tend not to over think it too much.

“ My doll is my bestest friend because she looks like me and we have tea parties,” said Kayla Thompson, who just celebrated her 6th birthday.

Kayla’s mom, Janice, said she ordered the American Girl doll to have green eyes and brown hair like her daughter and that they even have matching outfits.

“ It was a little (OK, a lot) more expensive than your average Barbie,” Janice said. “Maybe I partly did it for me. I just thought it was the cutest thing ever.”

Despite generational gaps, fond memories of a favorite doll are common among women.

“ Growing up, I had six sisters and we were dirt poor,” Carolyn Marcum, who has a large collection of antique paper dolls, said.

“ Mother had gotten us some paper dolls from the five and dime, and we played with those things until the ink wore off.”

Now, Marcum said, she loves to buy dolls for her granddaughter.

“ For Christmas she wanted a baby doll that swims in the water,” She said.

“ It’s funny how things change, but in some ways still the same.”

Over the years, dolls have taken various forms and ideals. They have also been an enduring symbol of childhood and a gateway to foreshadowing their future. They may continue to evolve but will undoubtedly mean the same things to little girls for generations to come.

Did you know?
– Two Barbie dolls are sold every second around the world. Placed head to toe, all the Barbies sold since 1959 would circle the globe more than 3.5 times.

– The most expensive doll on record, L’Oiseleur, was four feet tall and played the flute. The selling price? $6.25 million.

– Some of the first African-American dolls were designed by Leo Moss between 1890-1930. Many had a signature teardrop painted on a cheek.

– Patsy dolls, which debuted in the mid 1920s, were the first mass produced baby doll to have an extensive interchangeable wardrobe.

– In 1997, Mattel redesigned Barbie’s figure to have a slightly wider waist and face. The result was a slightly more realistic body proportion.

– Bratz dolls, released in 2001, have quickly become some of the most popular dolls on the market, tying or surpassing Barbie sales in some areas.

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