Is Big Foot a monster? The big foot Barbie of 1996.

The big flat feet of Hula Hair Barbie 1996
The big flat feet of Hula Hair Barbie 1996

No is categorically the answer. Big feet are not monstrous. If you imagine a human version of a Barbie doll, and that human version has the same tiny bent feet, they would be like the tiny broken and bound ‘Lotus feet’ of millions of Chinese women living between the 16th and 20th centuries. That is monstrous!

X-ray of bound feet v2

1981 Barbie doll feet
1981 Barbie doll feet

The practice of foot binding was endemic in China and there are still living women with bound feet today.

But how much of the enduring practice was about beauty versus ugliness? And how much was about social conformity? Some historical records indicate the initial practice was a about the beauty of ballet shaped feet:

…the practice is likely to have originated from the time of the 10th-century Emperor Li Yu… [He] created a six-foot tall golden lotus decorated with precious stones and pearls, and asked his concubine Yao Niang… to bind her feet in white silk into the shape of the crescent moon, and perform a ballet-like dance on the points of her feet on the lotus. Yao Niang’s dance was said to be so graceful that others sought to imitate her. The binding of feet was then replicated by other upper-class women and the practice spread.

Barbie Take Along Travel Case 1996 ballet dancer feature

Barbie Travel Case 1996

Ballet Lessons Barbie 1999 pink shoes

Ballet Lessons Barbie 1999

But a primary reason millions of women imposed this on their young daughters, time and time again, was because this act of social conformity ensured their daughters’ social acceptability as potential wives. Being married into a new family was the primary way to survive and thrive. Ideals of beauty and social conformity seem to fuse together. The most ‘beautiful’ woman was able to marry the richest man who would ensure a long, secure life with plenty of children. So people competed to be the most beautiful, which in a strange way meant a competition to be the most broken.

The competitive element can cause an ideal to become an extreme. I’ll make my waist smaller than yours, by wearing this tight corset and then I’ll be more attractive than you? Or I’ll pay for a breast enhancement and then I’ll look more striking than you? Or worse, I’ll look more acceptable to myself? Do human Barbie doll emulators such as Valeria Lukyanova and Rodrigo Alves actually suffer from body dysmorphic disorder? Does society suffer from body dysmorphic disorder?

It seems ironic at any rate that the Barbie lookalikes appeared so beautiful (according to current western ideals) before they had plastic surgery. In my eyes they now look ugly. I feel discomfited with their appearance. Strangely, although I enjoy dolls and find them fascinating and charming I don’t consider them beautiful. I associate true beauty with something fresher and more innocent – something less contrived. In terms of a person, I think it’s more about the experience of a person and joyful moments with them. The surface beauty of appearance is attractive and engaging, but not deeply satisfying.

One reason that Barbie dolls have small tiptoe feet is to fit easily into high heeled moulded plastic shoes. High heels being extremely popular, I guess there is a big customer demand for fashion dolls with heels. I do enjoy the look of heels. There’s something pleasing about the rounded shape of the shoe at the back, above the heel. And you can see more of the shoe – from all angles. But is that really attractive, or am I just culturally brain washed? I’ve given up on wearing them in any case – just too uncomfortable and impractical.

I do have a Mego doll that wears midi heels. They’re the ruby slippers worn by the character Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz story. The doll resembles Judy Garland circa 1939 and crucially the heels are articulated, allowing the foot to flex.

Flat feet of Mego Dorothy doll 1974.
Mego Dorothy (Judy Garland) doll feet and shoes 1974

Strangely, one of the most recent and most popular Barbie dolls, Made to Move Barbie has fairly realistic body proportions… except for the miniscule feet. I wasn’t even able pose the doll in a free standing position for the photo. What a shame!

Made to move Barbie coral top 2016 feet

However, Mattel have made some large footed dolls – as I discovered when I unpacked my bumper 1996 box. I found Hula Hair Barbie and In-Line Skating Barbie. Rock on girls! Dance like no-one’s watching.

Hula Hair Barbie 1996

Hula Hair Barbie

In-line Skater Barbie 1996

In-line Skating Barbie and her firmly flat footed friend Lil Chelsie

In yoga lessons, I’ve learned about the importance of connection with the ground. Whatever pose you do in yoga, it has be be earthed. You have to think about that and be aware of it, to achieve balance and release. So I vote for big feet. Ground connection, balance, release, stability. Big feet could be the foundation for a more stable society. I’m only half joking.

’96 a vintage year for Bubbling Barbie

I recently acquired a large lot of Barbie dolls from 1996 with a few ’95s too. They are fab and I’ll introduce a few of them over the next few days. Queen of the bunch must be Angel Princess Barbie. Don’t worry about whether an Angel can also be a princess just think ***Double Whopper***.

Fallen Angel Princess Barbie

Buy Angel Princess Barbie

Angel Princess Barbie in front of shelf

She is a very practical Angel who can stow her wings. They reattach with a big white press stud fastener. I wonder how you would design a life size dress with same helter skelter style skirt. Perhaps you could make it with thin nylon piping. It’s very carnivalesque.

She is not to be outdone by her watery sister Bubbling Mermaid Barbie (just squeeze to make bubbles). Well that was the idea, but she’s lost part of her bubbly crown mechanism. I do love her seahorse earrings.

Bubbling Barbie seahorse earrings

Buy Bubbling Mermaid Barbie

Bubbling Barbie head 1996

But what hair! Crimply, lovely and probably microplastic polluting sadly. Bubbling Barbie we live with your legacy.

Cartoon early learning egg toys

Tomy and Smurf eggs in retro egg cups

During a hunting spree, I found an egg toy. Coming up to Easter I put two and two together for an early learning Easter egg theme.

First discovery was this deeply pleasing Tomy egg box.

Tomy yellow toy egg box

Which opens to reveal half a dozen hen size eggs.

Tomy egg box

I like the incongruity of the about to be eaten / looking forward to some slap up nosh, lip smacking yolky faced egg. But then there’s the sly egg and the doctor “say ahhhh” tonsils egg. So many good ones to choose from.

Each egg cracks open to reveal a second ‘press and squeak’ character. It’s very split personality. Russian dolls within dolls, egg people that contain other egg people.

Tomy toy press an egg to make it squeak.

A perfect mix of slightly strange and reassuringly familiar.

Buy a box of Tomy eggs

Next we have a set of four jolly pop up dinosaurs. They’re a bit more logical with large eggs containing teething reptile babies. Each can be up-popped by cracking the clever button challenge: press, slide, angle or twist.

Tolo Pop Up Dinosaurs toy

Or press – to view evil Gargamel or Lazy Smurf in these blue Smurf eggs by Peyo.

Smurf egg slide viewer Gargamel screen

Buy Smurf cartoon slide viewer


Buy Smurf cartoon slide viewer (without wrapping)

Pushing the egg theme a bit with this Japanese early learning keyboard from Toyroyal – I think they’re just round heads but call them egg heads for now.

With charming Glasgow smiles and Japanese emoticon eyes.

Toyroyal Japanese musical keyboard early learning toy with egg heads

Buy early learning musical keyboard
for collectors (not new enough for kids)

Pink yellow purple blue orange multi colour kaleidoscope pattern silk scarf

Buy mystery kaleidoscope pattern silk scarf

Folded multi colour kaleidoscope abstract pattern silk scarf

And nothing to do with eggs but an Easter Spring quiz question. Do you recognise this scarf? I haven’t been able to identify the brand but the pattern looks so familiar… Answers in comments please.