When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and become a fashion and jewelry designer. I dabbled in both industries before I was old enough to wear a bra, even opening my own “jewelry store” called Dazzle by Leslie. I created – and sold, to various
suckers compassionate family members – matching earrings, pins and barrettes made out of rhinestone-dusted Legos (yes) or splatter-painted wooden hearts of various sizes …again, bedazzled with fabulous faux crystals. Much like Adult Leslie, back then, there was no such thing as too much shiny. I even had my own sparkly business cards. (Of course, this was before email or Twitter, so customers had to contact me at my parents’ house on Ridgewood Lane.) Dazzle by Leslie was, plain and simple, a smash hit on the Buffalo Grove Bar Mitzvah circuit.
I also designed clothes for my Barbie dolls. I remember sewing my mom’s fabric scraps into deliriously glamorous outfits for my pint-sized babes – satin ball gowns, denim jumpsuits, gold lame bathing suits. And even though I was still a half-decade away from needing a bra, I recall having a hard time fitting Barbie’s enormous chest. As Joe Simpson once famously opined of his daughter, Jessica, “She’s got double D’s! You can’t cover those suckers up!” But while it was frustrating for this child designer to struggle to accommodate Barbie’s curves, I was also mesmerized by them. Barbie was everything I wasn’t: Thin, blonde, tan, blue-eyed, and a real woman.
But do I blame her for the eating disorder I developed in college? Only a tiny bit – about as much as you could fit into, say, her size 2 perma-pointed foot. It was Barbie, it was my dad’s Playboys, it was airbrushed ads (before I knew what airbrushing was), Diet Coke and Snackwells, Howard Stern, MTV music videos, models on the runway, catcallers on the street, stories of liposuction and breast implants. It was genetics and family dynamics, nature and nurture.
I found myself assessing Barbie’s role as I flew to New York Sunday night for my Today Show appearance with – who else? – Barbie! Hamilton College student Galia Slayen constructed a life-sized Barbie doll by extrapolating her measurements to adult size. The result: A 6’0”, 11o-lb monstrosity, with Dolly Partonesque 39-18-33 proportions. Galia and I spoke with Natalie Morales (who actually interviewed me for my very first Today Show appearance, when my book, Locker Room Diaries debuted) Monday morning. Here’s what we had to say:
Dr. Robyn Silverman was also interviewed for the segment. Check out her take on Barbie here.