Monday, June 7, 2010

Part I: Barbie's New York Summer

One of my favorite books as a child was Barbie's New York Summer, a relic published in 1962 and inherited from my mother.  A chapter book based on the "real" life of Barbie Millicent Roberts, the story tells us about Barbie's luck in winning a magazine contest and leaving her midwest hometown (and boyfriend Ken, of course) for the glamourous and exotic city of New York.

 She spends the summer living in a high rise apartment and interning for a fashion magazine.  She learns the ins and outs of the magazine, including the hard work of "fit modeling" and scissors-and-paste editing, both very different jobs in 1962 than today.

But a few things really seemed significant when I read the book again.

1.  This book was written decades ago, but in our recent television era of The Hills, The City, Kell on Earth, and more, there's nothing more current than snagging a job as a fashion intern in a big city!

2.  The unwitting innocence - Barbie meets a mysterious Latin jet-setter named Pablo and falls hard for him, but there's not a hint of any fraternization beyond kisses and a holding hands in Central Park.  This isn't even a matter of the author keeping things PG for young readers.  In 1962, nice small town girls like Barbie really didn't do anything more than kissing and hand holding!  Compared to our modern YA literature of lusty vampires and rainbow parties, that's kind of nice, isn't it?

3.  Barbie's peach linen pumps - Barbie sits at soda fountain bemoaning the scuffs on her new summer shoes.  When I saw these retro peach pumps at TJ Maxx, I knew it was time to ante up and get out of my own small town for a while.

If Barbie can do it, can't we all?

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