My real first Barbie is a hand-me-down of Great Shape Barbie from the ’80s that my mom gave me when I was a kid. (Think teal spandex and a high ponytail.) That Barbie has since changed outfits hundreds of times and got lost in a pile of nostalgic childhood memories back home. However, another of my first – and favorite – Barbies was “The Wizard of Oz” Dorothy Barbie from 1999. A gift from my parents, she came with a basket, a pair of ruby slippers, her classic plaid dress with a puff sleeve blouse underneath and a Toto figurine. Best of all, she was my first TALKING Barbie, and her ruby slippers lit up thanks to miniature lights implanted in her feet – basically the coolest gift a 4-year-old in the ’90s could ever imagine.
I watched “The Wizard of Oz” a lot as a kid, and while the flying monkeys scared me, watching Dorothy switch from black and white to technicolor was always magical. Plus, my signature hairstyle as a kid was a few braids—usually tied up with beaded hair bands and butterfly clips from Claire’s—so I definitely felt a kinship with Dorothy whenever I played with her. She was also one of the few Barbies I owned that stayed in her original outfit most of the time — mainly because her arms were stiff and it’s hard to navigate tight elbows with small sleeves.
I certainly had other Barbies who often fell victim to fashion faux pas and became the center of whatever drama my preschool mind imagined, but Dorothy was like the cool older sister who oversaw everything. Today, her batteries may be dead, but I know she’s safely tucked away with the rest of my childhood memories, should I ever need a reminder that there’s no such thing as home anywhere.
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