Object of Attention: Barbie

I was awful at being a little girl, but I did have a Barbie. It’s this one, and she had a riotous and flaming youth. She was married at least fifty-seven times. She changed outfits several times a day. She owned a purple umbrella and a very revealing bikini and kissed her Ken with wild abandon, slamming into his face over and over.

I kept her in a little red bag, together with her wardrobe, a collection of plastic pots and pans, and a confused unicorn, all of which I found last fall, a few weeks before the house I grew up in was emptied, gutted, then bulldozed to the ground on a single day. I plucked her out of a pile of rubbish and we looked at each other, blankly. It seemed to me her spirit had faded. It is possible that she knew I’d forgotten her.

Whatever the truth, she is gone now. After I took this picture, I let her go her own way, and although I’d like to think that she went to the Goodwill, where another little girl found her, picked her up, exclaimed happily, and then took her home for a rigorous hair-brushing, I think it is more likely that she went to a landfill, where she lies, face-up, staring at the stars with something like memory.

(originally posted on Instagram:@bynellesmith)

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