To say Barbie was a ‘90s toy would be well, wrong as Barbara Millicent Roberts came to be back in March 1959. However, despite having almost 40 years to her name before 1995, it’s this year that meant so much to me as someone who spent most of my free time engulfed in a life in plastic. 1995 was the year Barbie introduced us to a whole new world of doll fashion when they debuted the Fashion Avenue line.
There was so much to love about Barbie from the dream house to the cars, but I’d be lying if I said my favorite thing about it all wasn’t the fashion. While the tiny shoes probably kickstarted arthritis in millions, it was impossible to deny how much time could be spent simply picking ensembles for your dolls to wear to various parts of your room that you’ve since imagined is a world that includes lavish malls, concert venues, zoos, and more. No matter where my Barbies were going, they always had to serve a look, and Fashion Avenue really took that up a notch.
Fashion Avenue took a lot of inspiration from the decade it debuted in, as well as paid homage to some iconic moments from the past. My absolute favorite outfit to this day is a velvet pink and yellow baby doll dress that blended the ‘90s with the ‘60s in a way that just made my 8-year-old self squeal. Looking through Google Images, I have hearts in my eyes because Fashion Avenue didn’t just make my Barbie collection look amazing, but it also made me feel as though my girls were shopping at the finest of fine boutiques. Their looks, anything but basic for…I’d guess my mom wasn’t paying more than $14.99 on an outfit. Which, thinking back to it – that was too damn much for clothes I couldn’t even wear.
I must say though, I was not a fashionable child and perhaps that’s why I lived through the array of Barbie dolls that were part of my room decor until around 5th grade when boy bands started to take precedence. Up to that point, I was this fat kid, a little girl that society would say was far from feminine. I dressed in oversized Winnie the Pooh tees from Kmart, bike shorts, and Payless Shoes. Ironically enough, there was this store that felt very indoor swap meet that sold trendy clothes called Fashion Avenue right by my hometown Kmart. All I could fit were the chokers, but I wished on every shooting star that one day I’d either be able to wear those or in a dream world – Barbie’s Fashion Avenue looks.
Because as much as we can toss around the idea of self-love and our outside not mattering as much as the inside, it’s not that easy to accept. Especially when you’re an 8-year-old fat kid that’s already been made to feel ugly by the world. So, in many ways, Barbie was an escape and her clothing allowed me to live fashionably, and none of her clothing did that as much as Fashion Avenue did. I even spent a few years of my childhood with dreams of being a fashion designer, basing most of my designs on the Barbie looks I adored so much.
Barbie was my escapism, and a creative muse as a kid and I know I’m not the only one as what we occupy our time as kids, even if they are seen as “just toys” matter so much. Since my days of playing with Barbie, so many dolls have come and gone and each have left their own impressions on the world. It’s not hard to tell how many recent drag performers obviously lifted their looks from Bratz, and in some years we’ll definitely see how L.O.L. and Rainbow dolls will impact the current crop of kids who scurry towards the toy aisle.
While we didn’t cover too many toys in Crushin on the ‘90s, we did get to talk to so many amazing people – including this week’s guests, Chris and Leah Liguori from Pub Trivia Experience and Boozy Bracketology! Do you think either of them loved Barbies as much as I did…?
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