Tuesday, December 22, 2009

22 December 1955 "Dolls and Apologies"

I thought it might be interesting to look at what toys might be under the tree this year for children.

This ad shows the idea of the money down, pay off your gifts. The concept of spending beyond your means to provide things for you child is really beginning to grow. Christmas as Commercialism is really beginning at this point in the decade. I am sure the few years right after the war, Christmas was very much about being home, together and sharing in family. Yet, here we are over 10 years past and the mass production of toys (easier now with the increased production of factories during the war and a war torn Europe and Japan to get cheap labor).

Every little girl usually loves a doll. At this point in time dolls were very much an example of what a young girl would be expected to be when she grew up, a mother. But, it was too change in four years, with the advent of Barbie.

It is interesting to note that up until 1959 (with the advent of Barbie) the dolls being produced for girls since the 1920’s were primarily baby dolls. Particularly in the 1950’s even the ever popular ‘Bride Dolls’ had a somewhat baby-doll look. One could say that a young girl, at that age, would often find herself playing at ‘being mother’. Then, in 1959, when Barbie was introduced, the element of nurse-maid help-meet was replaced with the concept of you ‘becoming the doll’.

Then, you would put yourself in the place of the doll, with her perfect and rather racy figure (she was actually modeled after a ‘sex figure’ doll based on a popular cartoon from Germany called Lilli .

Many mother’s at the time were very against Barbie and found her too racy and too ‘grown up’ for their children. Before Barbie, a little girl would play mother to the baby doll, or if she wanted to imagine herself the doll, she would imagine herself simply, a little girl or, again, the mother to a young girl. Her wardrobe was not ‘grown up’ in a ‘high fashion’ way. The accoutrements of such dolls were also about taking care of a child or being responsible for its well being.

This has become an interesting concept to me this year to think about. I, myself, loved Barbie, but by the time I came around, any ill feelings towards the doll had gone and she was just a normal part of childhood. But, in the historical context, it does draw an interesting parallel between a young girl playing at ‘helping others’ or becoming a grown up responsible for a child as compared to being a young sexy woman with expensive clothes, boyfriend and a fast car. It is really a very symbolic entrance into the 1960’s. Now, I am not saying I am against Barbie, but when you consider what she has become to represent to girls, that at the time young mothers found it rather daring to play with such a doll, could you imagine their response today to what little girls actually wear themselves? Was it part of the ‘making over’ of the modern woman? Was she being prepared to care more for her looks and possessions than to care for others? Interesting to think about, non? I think it would be fun and intersting to talk about it more and to see that even the toys that were made played a role in who we were to become as Americans as the decades of the 20th century rolled by.

Now, I have been SO buy as I found myself rather behind due to my illness. I am even, today, still making Christmas cookies to give to our neighbors. I also have to finish wrapping my gifts and prepare for our Christmas Eve Party, which luckily is not held at my house this year (we take turns with our family). Every year we do a different theme for our this family party some of which have included the 1950’s, Victorian Christmas etc. This year the theme is Japanese. Our gifts are themed to that and we dress in our interpretation of the theme. As Japan was beginning to play a major role in the us at this time, it is easy enough for me. So much of modern interiors were highly influenced by Japanese culture and I have many Japanese recipes in my 1950’s magazines. Many Japanese war brides returned to with their American G.I. husbands and a neighborhood may have contact with such a wife who would introduce them to tea ceremony, sushi, and even ichibani-the Japanese flower arranging style. But, I digress…to say the least, I am rushing about to get ready for our Christmas day as I spent almost three weeks of this month being almost bed ridden.

I had hoped to do so many wonderful posts about homemade gifts and cookies and food for the holiday season and do feel bad for not having got to it. I do hope you will all forgive me that. I will try, tomorrow, to post some fun images and recipes from my magazines, though it is rather late, it might make a fun Christmas Eve post and one can never start thinking about the next holiday too soon, right?

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