I was thinking about Barbies the other day, because someone on telly wore a dress that reminded me of Peaches and Cream Barbie. It was always between her and Crystal Barbie, wasn’t it. The latter was a shade more trashy, which worked in her favour as far as my six-year-old tastes were concerned, but P&C’s outfit genuinely looked mouthwatering.
I never ever had Barbie, I was only allowed Sindy – even now, a little embarrassing to admit. If only I’d had Barbies, I can’t help but think, I’d have turned out a different sort of person altogether. More confident, more conventional, certainly more attractive. See, Barbies were so pretty in their spectacular outfits. They had that alluring, creepy, American-ness about them. They looked at me with their funny flat eyes and they promised so much. My friend Joanne’s dad was an airline pilot and she had all the Barbies and the house and the car AND the horse. I went round there a lot. In retrospect, I wonder about my motives for that friendship. I was a tiny gold digger.
But, as with so many gold diggers, I had a genuine appreciation for the frills and the glamour. I still think about Barbie’s ear rings, and I still have a thing for princesses. Not real ones, I’m not mental. Pink, fluffy, long-haired, graceful ones. Needless to say, I am very, very excited about the forthcoming Disney Rapunzel film, Tangled. I think it looks absolutely perfect.
So no – no Barbies, but I did have two Popples, at least one Care Bear, and a growing collection of my absolute favourite: My Little Ponies. Ah, the Barbies of the equine world. I got one or two for every birthday and Christmas for years. Here are some of the ones I remember having:
Plus one with wings, a “baby” one, and quite possibly some of these – recently back on sale at Firebox. I was slightly sickened by any with freckles, and Gusty on the left here was my fave, because a) such pretty colours and b) An actual unicorn! No contest.
In fact, they diversified from the standard pony model quite early on. There were, iirc, babies, flighted ones, sparkly ones, ones with terrifying gemstone eyes, ones with no back legs (mermaid ponies?)… I mean, even on the standard models in the mid-80s, there were dozens and dozens to choose from.
The interesting thing is watching how far they’re prepared to take the metaphor. There must be a list somewhere at Hasbro detailing what these ponies will and will not tolerate.
- MLPs ARE FREE SPIRITS AND WILL NEVER BE RIDDEN.
- MLPs LIKE TO LOOK PRETTY AT ALL TIMES.
- MLPs MAY ATTEND A BEAUTY PARLOUR IN A TRAILER BUT THEY GO TO BED LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE.
- MLPs MAY WEAR LEG WARMERS BUT NEVER A SADDLE.
- MLPs MAY DRESS UP IN ANY OUTFIT THEY SEE FIT, AND EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE HORSES NO SPORT IS BEYOND THEIR REACH.
- MLPs MAY TAKE THE FORM OF MERMAIDS, FAIRIES, SEA-HORSES, BIRDS OR GEM-EYED MONSTERS. THEY ARE DEFINITELY ALL STILL MLPs THOUGH.
You see, the genius is making the horses mute, mysterious characters in themselves, and imposing some fairly strict rules about what they can be, which are then stuck to, rigidly, for decades. NB I have no real idea what’s going on with them these days, and to be honest, I’m too scared to look.
Tell me about your My Little Ponies. I don’t understand people who don’t love My Little Ponies. Why do you hate beauty?