In my teen years during the 1960’s, if you put a piece of paper in front of me it was instantly covered by some drawing from my imagination. The 1960’s were turbulent times. Race riots were explosive headline news daily across the country. There was fear and hate I didn’t understand but was fed.
It was the time of school busing and I was to be bused to a junior high school far away with a lot of black teens. I heard about knives in the schools and being told to carry extra money to pay off bullies
I ended up being sent to a boarding school because I was a truant for a year and left back so my mom sent me away to have the nuns deal with me. And I would have to go to school.
Actually I ended up doing well with discipline and I had company with a lot of wealthy girls who were problems to their families. We were misfits trapped in a nunnery in Sag Habor Long Island. But I have to say I did well in school. I only tried to escape once!
Anyway, back to this post of the racial issues. I ended up being accepted by the High School of Art & Design in NYC. My major was fashion illustration. And I always was doing a doodle or drawing every day. My mom rescued boxes of my work and that was the tip of the iceberg.
So one day I had my markers and paper and in my imagination I saw two young black girls and it started with a doodle and became this small drawing. I called it “Sisters”. It was in my mom’s apartment.
In 2005 I found it and showed it to my friends at work. The paper was old but the drawing was strong. One of the secretaries loved it and she offered me an excellent price for it. It spoke to her as a black woman. It was how I related to African Americans in 1965 as a teenager who despised violence and hate. I didn’t want to have fear and in a doodle I saw love.
I was a very lonely only child growing up in the 1950s. Being raised with mentally ill family and neglected I turned to living in my imagination and building my own family.
“Barbie was officially born at the American International Toy Fair in NYC on March 9, 1959. She wore a black and white zebra striped swimsuit, a topknot ponytail and came as a blonde or brunette. Her promo read “New for ’59, The Barbie Doll: A Shapely Teenage Fashion Model”. Her clothes were created by Mattel designer Charlotte Johnson and handmade by homeworkers in Japan where the first dolls were manufactured. At $3 apiece, 350,000 Barbies were sold that first year. Wisely, Mattel acquired the rights to the Bild Lilli doll in 1964 and halted production.”
I ran out and got my first Barbie after I saw the commercial for her on tv. I had a lot of them and made sure I purchased every new outfit that came out. My Barbies became my role models and family. Barbie taught me I didn’t have to grow up and be a wife, mother, teacher or secretary. Barbie was savvy and had careers like being an entertainer on stage. As a singer she wore the a black sequin mermaid gown with long black gloves and high heel pumps. The name of the outfit is “Solo in the Spotlight “. I wanted to grow up and be an entertainer and wear a great tight sequin gown. Barbie said I could be successful for me and didn’t need to have a man to take care of me. That’s quite a message in 1959.
Barbie was strong. Barbie was sexy. She had big boobs. I wanted big boobs. She had all the latest fashions too. They made one wedding dress outfit but that seemed awkward because Ken had not come on the market. It was like they made it to placate the marriage myth to young girls. Oh yeah and after the career go get married. Little girls love weddings. That’s because little girls don’t know what marriage is and that they need a man in the picture. It’s all about the DRESS. That how I eventually tied the knot.
I wonder how Barbie’s marriage to Ken Carson ended??
It was Barbie who set the stage for my future as a creative artist not my real family. She was different in the world of dolls. I was different in the world of girls. I was encouraged to be creative. I pursued a career in fashion illustration. She also inspired me to be a compulsive clothes shopper .
By the way I did get married and I have a wonderful son Dan who attends Colgate University and made the Dean’s List this year!!
Who knew the power of a little plastic doll.
My fashion designs and illustrations from the 1960s – 1970s.