When I was a kid my brother and I played Barbie’s together. And for the longest time I thought the way we played was normal. I remember we both loved the 90s cartoon version of X-Men and religiously watched it every Saturday morning over our Lucky Charms. My brother’s favourite character was Wolverine and mine was Rogue. I don’t remember when or why my brother came into possession of a 12″ Wolverine action figure but he soon became good friends with all of my Barbies. When we played Barbie’s, Wolverine was always around. Sometimes we’d look through the Barbie dolls and choose the ones that looked most like each member of the X-Men team. Then we’d pretend they were going on adventures and fighting Magneto or Sabretooth.
Once I had a Barbie Camper and it was a pretty cool gadget. You could put Barbie in the driver’s seat and it would look like this huge pink RV. Then you would magically unfold the back part into an open concept RV complete with a single bed, a small kitchen and shower (no toilet even though Barbie ate she didn’t go to the bathroom). And part of the camper was an open deck so she could enjoy the wilderness. Now in both of our heads (mine and my brothers) we thought when you camped you had to get food the old fashioned way: hunting and gathering. Now in the wild forests of my bedroom the only animals that existed were my teddy bears so basically whenever we took Barbie and her good friend Wolverine camping, Barbie would ask Wolverine to stay behind and guard the camp sight while she would go out and wrestle a bear with her bare hands. Then she’d drag it back to the camper and cook it for her and her good friend Wolverine to enjoy.
Once I was set up on a play date with a girl my age, her brother was already friends with my brother so the parents thought it was a good idea for me to tag along and make a new friend too. The young girl asked me to bring some Barbie dolls so we could play with them together. I was so excited finally a girl my age wanting to go on cool adventures with Barbie! I wonder what cool stuff they do? Do they fight bears too? Maybe she doesn’t make them pretend to be X-Men maybe she likes to pretend they’re helping Batman or Spiderman. Oh how cool! I’m so excited. I got there Barbie in hand so excited! She said “Did you bring any clothes for her to change into?” I replied “No she’s wearing a pretty cool outfit now she’s fine”. She sighed “Well I suppose you can use some of my Barbie outfits for now.” Turns out all she wanted to do was play fashion show and dress the Barbie dolls in different outfits and make them walk an imaginary catwalk.
Now as an adult I don’t really find this to be a thrilling way to play Barbie dolls but if my future child wants to do this I don’t have any strong moral objections and I’ll smile and encourage her/his imagination. Afterall, it could lead to fashion design, photography and who knows what other creative outlets (or maybe nothing in that area at all it doesn’t matter play should be fun for kids) I digress too much here. My point is even as a kid I found what she wanted to do so boring and I didn’t want to play with her anymore. Since I was frequently bullied in school and had no friends I pretended to be having a great time but I never brought my Barbie dolls over again. No way I would subject my superhero doll to such torture again.
The whole incident alarmed me though. I could never figure out why I was bullied so much or why I couldn’t make very many friends. I definitely thought there was something wrong with me. The inquisitive scientific mind I had came up with the hypothesis that it could be the way I played with my Barbie dolls. I asked the other girls at school what sorts of games, imaginary stuff did they do with their Barbie dolls. “Create a wedding with church guests, a groom, priest and beautiful dress” was the most common response. So I thought in order to be normal I had to do this. I had a few pretty wedding dresses that could fit on Barbie (they were made for a different counterfeit Barbie but they’d do). I asked my brother to help, he was my playmate and he was a very happy-go-lucky guy who just enjoyed playing with me so when I asked he agreed. We got busy setting up a little wedding scenario. Since Barbie didn’t spend much time romancing with Ken in my bedroom we had to get her to agree to marrying the first Ken we grabbed and fast. She wasn’t very happy about it but in order to be normal we had to do it. She agreed and put on the slightly too big for her wedding dress from counterfeit Barbie doll wedding dress line & headed to the altar. My brother held up Ken and the priest and began reciting whatever we thought a wedding should sound like (probably based off of the many TV weddings we had seen). I held up Barbie and tried desperately to keep her dress from falling off. Almost done…the priest asked Barbie if she would take Ken to be her lawfully wedded husband and I couldn’t help myself. She said “No! I want to go camping and wrestle bears!” Off came her dress and she ran out of church naked! My brother was laughing on the floor now enjoying the thought of a bride screaming no in the middle of a boring wedding and running out of the church naked. He was totally entertained! He ran to grab Wolverine (he wasn’t invited to the wedding). And we redressed Barbie in her bear wrestling outfit and went back to what we loved.
Now you’re probably trying to figure out the point of this story and how I got my three rules of Barbie and Wolverine from it. First off, my whole life I never thought about getting married being a necessity. It didn’t matter to me either way if I spent my life single or married. I was and could after all be a whole and complete person without being married. As an “annoying” feminist I knew no woman needed a man in her life to complete her she was capable on her own and could achieve whatever she dreamed. I also knew if I did get married it should be because I wanted to not because the world told me I should. When I met the man that is now my husband he totally agreed with me. He was after all a whole and complete person on his own too. Our relationship blossomed into a wonderful friendship and romance. We decided to make the commitment to be together for the rest of our lives. Working on being together and committed to one another can be hard but being two complete beings we’re bound to clash and have arguments. We’ve discovered the key to any human relationship is communication and respect — even if we don’t always agree this is important. I’ve only been married for 5years now so I’m sure pearls of wisdom on marriage will come forth as we continue to grow in our relationship with one another.
The second part is quite obvious too. I didn’t fit into the stereotypical girl outline. But, when you become an adult you realize no one fits the stereotype completely. While I do like shoes, action movies, pretty dresses and sparkly stuff. I detest romantic movies, the colour pink and playing sports (PE class was a nightmare for me. I wish they taught nothing but Yoga. Always getting picked last for any sport is both humiliating and does not encourage one to do better at a sport). But, I used to think cos-play was stupid and a waste of time too. I came to realize how much fun it is to have a hobby and do something you love. It relieves stress and makes you a more well rounded person. Also, if you’re not hurting anyone why does it matter. In my 30years on this planet even if I could never find the patience or time to do something one of my friends was doing I was totally interested in hearing them talk about it. They were excited about it and while I may be annoying being the one who knows nothing about it I bet my questions about what things were or how they did it made them feel good that someone at least cared about their passion. I guess we don’t have to fit into any one category and we can always change and grow. The second point of my story is in the end it’s ok to not be normal. Things will get better, you will meet people who have the same passions you do and if not you at least have a clueless friend like me who will listen to your excitement with equal enthusiasm cause your passion is what makes you cool and awesome to be around.
My third point is I thought life was supposed to be this grand adventure that you went on with family and friends. Maybe not to fight Magneto or wrestle a bear but just an adventure. My husband asked me if I thought we were adventurous. And I truly think we are. We may have boring day-to-day things like housekeeping, bills and brushing our teeth but that comes with the territory of being a human. The in between parts are the best, the experiences we (my husband and I) have shared. The memories we made are just awesome. Having a mutual experience is so great for growing relationships and we have had many great mutual experiences. We’ve had some pretty grand experiences. I got to pet a crocodile’s tail last weekend. My husband and I went to Australia two years ago and we watched seals mate and feed their young on a beach, we fed kangaroos at a rescue centre (they have surprising strength but are gentle — I was pulled to the ground by them they wanted me to feed them at ground level). We’ve had some small adventures too like hiking trails around our home, going out to watch movies together, even driving out to the mall to buy a BoosterJuice or a cup of tea from David’s Tea are adventures. Sometimes we don’t even have to leave home for an adventure. Last Monday our dog at a small chicken bone and two days later he pooped it out whole — we were so excited to see his poop that day!
I guess as corny as it sounds playing with Barbie Dolls (and a 12″ Wolverine action figure) with my brother all those years ago taught me about life.
(1) You can be complete without getting married and you should only get married because you want to not because society tells you to
(2) It’s ok that you’re not normal, nobody is. We don’t need to be normal. Our passions make us who we are and are what makes us attractive companions to others. We need to celebrate our diversity and even if we have some normal likes that fit into a stereotype (like shoes so many shoes!) we don’t need to be ashamed of them we are entitled to enjoying life when we can there’s too much suffering in the in between parts.
(3) Life is about having adventures. Adventure doesn’t mean grand large scale stuff but it can be and that’s pretty cool too. But we are allowed to define an adventure as celebrating a dog passing a bone through his digestive tract too.
My final thoughts on this little essay? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure if this is a complete list of rules I live by and one day I may change my mind and think this is all a dumb way to live life. For now they’re pretty good solid rules.