So I started picking up thank you gifts for the wedding, mostly for our two flower girls Gaby and Melanie, because I love an excuse to run amok in Toys R Us. Oh, who am I kidding? I spoil them both, and I love it. I am the Cool Non-Aunt Angie who suggests carving pumpkins into the shape of cats, Easter Egg dyeing in February, and trips to Nutcracker. I am the buyer of tutus, the sender of stickers, the assembler of intricate foam butterfly gardens. What can I say? I love them to bits and pieces.
So I'm hosting a thank-you lunch/spa outing for my mom, sister, mother-in-law, attendants, bridal ninjas, etc. before the rehearsal. It was really important to me to include both the flower girls. They're just going to get a basic nail polish as a special treat and then retire to the Garden Room to- hopefully- play with their presents..
My original idea was to get them American Girl dolls, which come with every possible accessory you can imagine, including their own salon chairs and carts of cosmetology supplies. This way Gaby and Melanie can play with the dolls' hair and makeup while their moms and the other "grown-up ladies" get their spa treatments.
I like the American Girl dolls, because each one has a related book or series of books. The company puts a special emphasis on diversity, and their historical dolls are interesting without being lame. The price that one pays for all this wholesome, educational fun (especially for two girls) rivals the cost of the wedding cake. Um, whoops. Back to the drawing board.
Amanda and I always got a kick out of this Barbie head with hair you could style when we were little. So I thought it would be fun to pick up the modern-day equivalent of that. But you know what? Mattel has gone kind of slutty. I blame the Bratz. You do know about the Bratz, yes? The freaky, bug-eyed prostitots that wear low-rise jeans, sleeveless corsets and tummy-bearing hoodies?
Even the Bratz Stylin' Head comes with hard plastic boobies and a bare navel. Like. Hell. Next!
One aisle over, in the Barbie section, I found these ever so slightly less slutty "Barbie Totally Hair Styling Head* - Bling it Out" set. I am not making this up. That's what it is actually called.
Pro: This Barbie is not white.
Neither of my flower girls is white. They may end up absorbing the ever-present societal expectations of beauty, favoring light skin, Caucasian-texture hair, and lithe, boyish bodies, but if either of these girls has an existential racial identity crisis a la Toni Morrison's "Bluest Eye," I will cry. A lot. I would also feel obligated to pay their parents back for all their therapy, should they find themselves on The Couch, shredding a tissue: "It all began when I was 5. I got this Totally Hair Bling It Out Barbie Styling Head as a present. Totally Styling Head Bling It Out Barbie was beautiful and blond and blue-eyed and perfect. I began saving my allowance for plastic surgery that very day."
But then... I saw that Totally Styling Head Bling It Out Barbie had on a leather choker. And she didn't come with very fun accessories. She came with some tiny black bows and sparkly barettes, but she was lacking in stuff to smear on her face and wipe off again. I mean, that's no fun. So... scary submissive-suggesting necklace AND lack of fun stuff = NEXT!
Which brings us to... The Island Princess: Princess Rosella Singing, Talking, Styling Head. What is this fresh hell?
Yup. An otherwise disembodied Barbie head WITH A MOVING MOUTH that talks, sings and comes with her own pet peacock and raccoon (Which? WTF? Are peacocks and racoons, like, forest friends now? What did I miss?) AND get this! A CREEPY, CROWN-WEARING ALBINO MONKEY PET. Absolutely not. No. Fucking. Way.
So, the path of least resistance, short of blowing $300 at the American Girl doll store, led me to the Trend Friends.
I have to confess, I was starting to feel my sanity ebbing away, particularly when another customer made the Princess Rosella Talking Singing Styling Head start to do its thing. The Barbie Trend Friends aren't a perfect gift. They come in one box, for one thing. My flower girls aren't sisters, so it's not like the present is going to the same house at the end of the weekend. I spent the evening trying to liberate the Trend Friends from their original packaging cellophane prison. They were shackled not only the Stereotypical White Lady Beauty Standard, but also by about 5 million twisty ties. (Down with patriarchy! Down with twisty ties!)
I put them in separate boxes, evenly divided the bountiful smeary fun goodies, wrapped them in tissue paper, and on August 8th WE ARE ALL GOING TO PRETEND THAT THIS IS HOW IT CAME FROM THE STORE, RIGHT?!? Ahem. The Trend Friends may not be ideal, but I think the girls will like them.
But! And this is of the utmost importance, they do not come with creepy, crown-wearing, albino monkey pets. Thank god for that.