Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cinthia Ritchie is a Barbie girl...plus a giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

Introduction by Melissa Amster

I have a confession to make. I was playing Barbies, long after it was deemed socially acceptable. (Meaning I was in junior high and still engaged in their dramatic lives, even going so far as making clothes for them.) Thankfully, I have a younger sister who made it feel more acceptable for me to be playing Barbies. After all, someone needed to help her make up dialogue between Barbie and Ken or she'd be talking to herself! In any case, we bonded during those hours in the basement when we'd have the Barbie and Ken dolls act out Back to the Future, using the Barbie Corvette as the time machine. Or when we'd have them go to a dance club that took place on top of our jukebox. (Yes, we had a jukebox in our basement.) As a teenager, I would draw pictures of Barbies in strange situations and send them to a close friend of mine. Then she'd do her own drawings and send them to me. It was an amusing activity that we enjoyed sharing. As an adult, I look forward to the day when my daughter will take an interest in Barbies. I will definitely support that habit!

When Cinthia Ritchie told me that she wanted to talk about Barbies with our readers, I was over the moon ecstatic! Her debut novel, Dolls Behaving Badly (Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group), which was published earlier this week, is about a sardonic, 30-something single mom who secretly makes "naughty" dolls for extra income, in order to support her son, pregnant sister, and live-in teenage babysitter. Cinthia wants her readers to understand that it’s okay to be alone; that having a man in your life is a gift, but so are so many things: sisters and sons, neighborhood babysitters, and even dead grandmothers bearing sugar-laced recipes.

Cinthia Ritchie is a former journalist who lives and runs mountains and marathons in Alaska. Her work can be found at New York Times Magazine, Sport Literate, Water-Stone Review, Under the Sun, Memoir, damselfly press, Slow Trains, 42opus, Evening Street Review and over 45 literary magazines. She presently owns five Barbie dolls. You can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Today, Cinthia is here to share her Barbie memories and has a signed copy of Dolls Behaving Badly, a Barbie, and a treat from Alaska for one lucky reader anywhere in the world!

Barbie: A Love-Hate Relationship

Once, when I was younger and meaner, I buried one of my sister’s Barbie doll out in the cow pasture. I buried right next to a cow patty, which was still fresh and moist, and then I wiped my hands over my shorts (K-mart and cheap and nothing like the elegant fashions Barbie wore), went inside and ate a pie of apple pie.

Even now, whenever I smell apple pie, I think of Barbie’s arms poised helplessly in the air as I pushed dirt down over her plastic and infuriatingly cheerful face.

Growing up, I resented Barbie dolls. I loved them, but I resented them. They were so perfect and unspoiled. They never got mosquito bites or split ends. They never chewed their fingernails or broke out in rashes.

Mostly, I resented Barbie’s face, that clear-coated beauty that never wavered, followed by that perky-shaped figure that jutted out with such confidence, such smug and jaunty awareness. Even at ten years old, I knew that I would never look that way. I was a skinny, scrawny kid who day-dreamed and hated to comb her hair. I smelled of horse and dirty feet. I would never be beautiful. It was impossible that I would ever be beautiful.

I didn’t have a Barbie of my own, for those were reserved for my older sisters. I had Penny Brite. I didn’t like Penny Brite. She was small and chubby, at least chubby compared to the impossibly thin Barbie standards, and she wasn’t sophisticated. She reminded me of the counter girl at the Stuckey’s where we stopped for cinnamon buns after church, and I didn’t want to be a waitress. I told people that I wanted to be a beauty queen, but that wasn’t true, either. What I wanted was to be a hippie, like I saw on the evening news: Girls wearing fringed vests and tight jeans, their long, dirty hair flowing out behind them. I was born too late to be a hippie but still, that’s what I dreamed of, and I believed that I could have it, too, if only I looked like Barbie. I wanted to be beautiful not because I valued beauty but because I knew it would grant me the thing I desired: freedom.

Years later, hitchhiking across the country with a man I would later leave, I found a Barbie doll at a rest stop outside Colorado. Later that morning, when he took pictures of me lying in a horse pasture, I positioned Barbie beside me, the wind singing over my face so that I felt beautiful and serene.

I don’t know what happened to that Barbie or to that man or even those pictures. I don’t remember what happened to Penny Brite, either, or the Barbie dolls handed down by my older sister when they discovered boys.

The Barbie I remember is the one I buried. Probably I never buried it to begin with. Probably, I only wanted to.

Still, nights working late writing Dolls Behaving Badly, when my mind wobbled and I needed to center myself, I imagined that buried Barbie doll twining and rising up through the soil, shoots sprouting, branches spreading out like arms, and then buds appearing, magically tender and new, each one shaped as bland and perfect as Barbie’s face, which still looked nothing like my own.

Thanks to Cinthia for sharing her Barbie memories with us and her book (along with doll and candy) with our readers.

For more Barbie fun, stop by at 11 am EST to see the many Barbie stylings of Wade Rouse.

How to win Dolls Behaving Badly (and other gifts):

Please answer ONE of these questions....
*Which Barbie doll was your favorite when you were a kid? Why?
*Which chick lit character would make a great Barbie doll? What accessories would she come with?
*What kind of Barbie doll would you like to see on shelves that would be closer to real life? (Ex. "Frazzled Mom of three toddlers" Barbie)

One entry per person (even if you answer all three questions).

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

Giveaway ends February 13th at midnight EST.


For more Barbie fun (and fashion), check out CLC's Go-To-Gay's February column.

20 comments:

TinaB said...

My fave Barbie was "My First Barbie". She was easier to dress because her arms & legs were smooth...not that sticky feeling stuff like other Barbies. I actually still have her and I'm 40. Ha!!
Brannanflooring@aol.com

Nina said...

I'd love a barbie for my situation--college grad and living at home barbie!!! hahaha ;)
nina565(at))aol(dot}com

susieqlaw said...

My favorite Barbie doll was Skipper.
sendsusanmail at gmail dot com

Nova said...

My favorite Barbie was my Superstar Barbie from 1977. I loved her hair, her pink dress, and pink boa. I still have the dress and boa, don't know what happened to the doll :(

sparkle40175@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

My favorite Barbie was the classic one from the early 60s with the blonde ponytail, which belonged to my older sister. Years later when I was deemed old enough to have a Barbie instead of baby dolls, I received a Barbie for Christmas that sported a black bobbed hairdo. I longed for the blonde tresses of my sister's Barbie, and I suspected that Santa gave me that black haired Barbie because it strongly resembled my mother. No wonder I never bonded with that Barbie. Hoberg dot fifty-seven (numberals) at gmail.

Jessica said...

My favorite barbie was beach barbie!

Thanks!
-Jessica M
walkingcorpse11@hotmail.com

Erica said...

Midge!! Remember her?

wordywon at gmail dot com

karenk said...

Skipper...and Francie...remember them?

Thanks for the chance to read this story

I'm a follower, too

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Margaret Literary Chanteuse said...

My favorite was a western Barbie that I had. I never did get the horse to along with her though. She had a little button on her back and you could make her wink. I loved that feature.

The Becky Bloomwood doll would be interesting. She could have those little letters she sends to banks etc and even secret emergency credit cards to hide.

I honestly can't think of a good real life doll.

Margaret
singitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

Tia Dalley said...

I think they need a stay at home Mom Barbie, maybe she could come with a car, kids, kitchen, and laundry set
videoclimber(at)yahoo(dot)com

Bethie said...

My favorite Barbie doll was always Holiday Barbie.
I would love to see Barbie fight some vampires.
I would make a "mommy needs to lose 10 lbs Barbie.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Mary Preston said...

I never had a Barbie. I think it may have been disapproval by my Mother.

My daughter had Barbie's. Her favorite was a Rock Star Barbie.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Bridget O'Neill said...

My favorite Barbie was kissing Barbie. I used to chase a boy around at recess in first grade trying to kiss him with it :)

And I have a huge collection of classic Batbie ornaments! I have most of them from around the year 2000 or so :)

Bjoneill@hotmail.com

bn100 said...

Becky Bloomwood would make a good Barbie. She's come with shoes and purses.

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

My favorite Barbie was the first one because that is the only one I had. I did have two...a blond and a brunette. They were so cool.

As far as a new one, how about Granny Barbie with a corresponding body.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

rubynreba said...

I always liked the only Holiday Barbie I ever received. I can't remember what year it was but I thought she was so pretty! I had other Barbies but never liked them like I did that Holiday one.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

leonel said...

I played with the Barbie Dream House (does that count?)

leonelelscota at g mail

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I can be a bit of a feminist....I would love a "real" Barbie! I am not asking for a lot...a Barbie that even remotely looks like a real woman!

Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

Jeryl M. said...

My favorite Barbie was Fashion Photo PJ because she was the only one we had that had dark hair like me. She was actually my sister's, but I always liked to play with her.

jeryl.marcus@gmail.com

Melissa said...

Thanks to everyone for participating and talking Barbies with us. It would be fun to see a Becky Bloomwood Barbie! We should tell Mattel to get cracking on that!

Thanks to Cinthia for visiting us and sharing the prizes with our winner, who was chosen by random.org from all entries with contact info (one per person).

Congrats to Jeryl M!