Mary L. Holden
2 min readJul 28, 2023

…of the ages

Female jointed doll, Nuremberg c. 1520, boxwood, Bodemuseum Berlin

Her toes intact (except one)
never knew
the injustice of high heels.

Her eyes cast (downward)
towards work
tasks assigned by breasts.

Her hair, encloched,
held heat
and obscured emotions.

Barbie’s female ancestor (preserved)
continues mystique
sitting full-on-frontal.

NOTE: The Barbara doll I owned arrived as a gift on my fifth birthday. She came with a carrying case, a few changes of clothes, and plastic high heels.
My grandmother, an excellent seamstress, made more clothes for her, but in my home, Barbara was mostly a nudist.

I grew up with brothers.

The movie about Barbie The Doll surprised me. As a child, and a lifelong cis-female, I preferred playing in the dirt with Tonka trucks, little green army men, and Matchbox cars. What the young males were doing was so much more exciting and fun that changing the outfits on a mannequin and making up dialogue to create scenarios with Ken and Midge.

Dolls…they were not my thing…but they kept arriving. Chatty Cathy hung around for awhile until “pulling her string” and hearing the same things over and over got boring. My brothers and I put her into a half-full bathtub. We watched the bubbles come out of her speaker. After we dried her off and put her jumper back on, we pulled the string and found she now had special needs. All she could do was gargle. And even that got boring after the first few laughs.

My daughter was given a Barbie for her third birthday. She was also given a Barbie car. She parked it in a playtime garage made out of the box that had held a new dishwasher. During a housecleaning rampage, I put that box out for the trash collection, not knowing the car was inside. When she discovered it was gone, she didn’t care…and she never played with the Barbie doll. We sold it at a garage sale.

She did, however, turn a pink Playskool baby carriage into a wheelchair.

Give a kid a toy. It won’t matter if it has breasts or guns. They know how to figure out what “play” means, and if they’re fortunate, their inner child will always remember.



Mary L. Holden

A constantly evaporating editor and writer. Believer in medium since 2013 when they made me wait for an invitation….