Sunday, October 30, 2011


I had one Barbie doll growing up. I don't have a visual memory of it. I suppose it was blonde. And pretty. And I loved it. I remember I also had a book about Barbie. Barbie, the Stewardess. Of course, today, that would be renamed Barbie, the Flight Attendant.

I guess I was pretty happy with one Barbie. But some people (I don't want to name names but clue: It's my mom and my godmother Ninang Linda) promised me a doll house if I were a good girl. I guess I was never a good girl because I never got that doll house. And probably, that is when the discontent, the craving, the feeling of deprivation began.

My next Barbie came when I was 15. My first boyfriend gave it to me. It was blonde. And it was that long ago, that I can't remember much about it either. Except that I loved it.

No Barbies during college and the early part of my career. None either when I got married. I was more intent on having real babies. The fact that real babies didn't come did not exempt us from the birthday party circuit, and I found myself buying toys for other people's children.

One time, I was buying Barbie clothes, and I felt a pang of envy. I wanted some for myself too. So, I bought myself a Barbie and some clothes. Through a period of say, seven years, I started buying a doll at a time, especially when it was on sale. Started collecting clothes and shoes. My whole collection of six dolls plus a generous wardrobe fit into one little Barbie case. A Barbie case that stayed on a high shelf, where it was barely touched. Once in rare while, I would let nieces and guests play with them. Afterwards, they would immediately go back to the shelf.

Until early this year. February, to be more precise. We had some guests over, including a lovely girl named Mica. We tried to entertain her and her brother with paper and colored pens and an assortment of toys. Then, I remembered my Barbies and let her play with them.

Afterwards, I did not immediately put the case on the shelf. It was on the floor of my room when my nieces Daniela and Sonya arrived. We were watching Tyra's Next Stop Model Cycle 15, and we were really annoyed that that gawky, mega-awkward Ann won the cycle. Out of frustration, we started playing with the Barbies, which were conveniently on the floor. We started taking photos, which I immediately posted on my Facebook wall. I called the album Gege's (my name) Next Top Model.

I was surprised at the "audience reaction." Friends of mine started liking photos and giving comments, some even using Tyranese vocab. Some expressed vehement critiques, and some took on favorites. As a result, Chelsea was sent home.

And Lena won the first episode, winning a lifetime supply of shoes from Sole Music Emporium in the process.

And because I'm an approval whore, the audience reaction drove me to create another episode and another, and another. And because I'm a hoarding freak, I started collecting more Barbies, more clothes, more shoes and accessories. And I've added furniture and other props as well.

Today, my room looks like a warehouse, and my husband is afraid to walk in the dark lest he steps on a something plastic that would hurt his foot.

This blog will continue to narrate my obsession with these lovable, plastic creatures.


One of the things they ask you immediately upon entering a toy store is, "Mam, pang-ilang taon?" (What age are you shopping for?) Sometimes, I just raise my eyebrows at them and ignore them. Or sometimes, I blurt out, 44 years old, just to look at their reaction. More often, I do the former. Because it is with more than a bit of embarrassment that I have to admit I'm shopping for myself.

So, why is a 44-year old woman in a toy store buying Barbie dolls? It is, to most people, a social aberration. At some point when a girl moves from childhood to adolescent, they shift their interest from toys to boys, and their once-loved dolls get stored, handed down, or sold in garage sales. That's what is considered normal. Because we mature and shed the need for toys.

But, I guess I'm not normal. So, the question is, why? What's this obsession all about?

Is it because I have no kids, and I need to indulge my maternal instinct to dress up little people?

Is it because as a kid, I was deprived of Barbies?

Is it because I'm overweight, and the only way I can live the fashionista life, is vicariously through inanimate, perfectly-formed, 11-inch creatures?

 Is it because I'm a frustrated artist with only a modicum of talent and this is the only kind of art I can be crafty enough to pursue?

I guess it's all of the above. Plus because Barbies are really purty, and they make me happy.