I've been playing with Barbies lately. I know, it doesn't seem like me. Maybe it's time to get in touch with my inner child and move past my disdain for dolls? Well, I'm not actually playing with dolls. I'm just painting 2-D Barbies, and the more I paint them, the more ideas I have for them. Maybe this is the point of play?
I recently started a painting (not this one), knowing that most of an object I labored over creating was going to eventually be painted over with something else. This was an irritating decision, but I decided it's unavoidable. Enjoy the process. Experiment. Be curious. See where things go. If it turns out badly, paint over it. Talk to Barbie.
You can't learn anything new if you insist you already know everything or if you're afraid to try. If every painting is a masterpiece, it devalues the path to your actual achievements. Be willing to fail. Learn. Grow.
Barbie is a lot like fairy tale princesses. Pretty and special with her handsome Ken. She has an endless happily ever after where nobody gets sick or old. Being a princess isn't all it's cracked up to be if Meghan Markle is any indication though. Good for her for deciding what she wants her life to be, and good for her to pick a husband who supports her choices. Live long and prosper.
I think a lot of us are invested in the princess fantasy. Having a foot small enough for a glass slipper can get you out of scrubbing floors forever. Who wouldn't want that? Sounds great. I hate washing floors. It's too bad I have average sized feet and I've never met a handsome prince who wants to measure them.
Fantasy is a plus and a minus. Creativity leads to many wonderful things. If we can dream of something, we can work towards making it a reality. If we get mired in our dreams without doing anything, we live in poverty with dirty floors. We marry the guy who turns into a beast instead of turning into Prince Charming. We whine it's unfair we weren't born princesses.
Play is important. Kids have to play to learn. The more fun the learning, the more they learn. Who decides when a kid is too old for that kind of thing? Probably somebody who wants the kid to be quiet or live out the aspirations of the person banning the playing. Evil step-mothers who envy youth and beauty aren't the only ones who squash the joy in kids. Sometimes even the best intentioned people take away others' joy because that's the way they think it has to be. Give those people Barbies.
I've been keeping my thoughts to myself lately because I've been bouncing between outrage and depression as I watch the destruction of democracy in the US amidst others' apathy and misinformation. It didn't seem very useful to spread those kinds of feeling around. I've been reading in Robin Hobbs' books instead, in other words, escaping into fantasy. Kings, queens, princes, and princesses -- they're all great if they're fictional in a fictional world and all the blood is red paint. Maybe I should paint a Farseer assassin Barbie?