The Barbie movie comes out this week and I cannot wait to see it. I was a child of the 70s, and much of my playtime back then centered around Barbie. Dressing them, doing their hair, and making up stories with the dolls were my favorite things to do.
One Hanukkah, I asked for a TV in my bedroom, while my younger sister asked for a Barbie Dream House. Little did she know that I would sneak into her room and play with it when she wasn’t home.
I never would have dreamed that one day I would be working for Mattel, the company that created Barbie.
Working At Mattel Toys
I didn’t set out for a career in the toy world. To be honest, I didn’t plan on any particular career at all. I graduated from college in the late 1980s, moved home with my parents on Long Island, and went to New York City to look for a job.
I got an interview for an assistant job at Mattel and thought, “Well that would be cool.” They hired me and it really was cool.
To be clear, my job wasn’t that impressive or exciting but the company was. Mattel is based out of El Segundo, CA, and the New York office was a small sales office on 6th Avenue between 21st and 22nd Street. There wasn’t much room to grow a career unless you made to move out to California.
Our office was like being in a small company within a large corporation. Those of us who worked there were all about the same age and became friends. It was a really nice place to work.
Toy Fair With Mattel
There were a lot of fun times. Every February, our office hosted Toy Fair, which is an annual toy industry trade show. Most companies go to the Javits Center in NYC, but Mattel was so big that we had our own venue.
During the day, we worked hard. But at night, there were dinners and nights out with the El Segundo employees. Plus, they put us all in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for the week!
There was a massive party for the employees one night during the week in the Waldorf ballroom. We all got dressed up and danced the night away.
One year, in the height of the Beverly Hills, 90210 craze, Mattel created dolls of the characters. Think Barbies and Kens that looked like Brenda, Brandon, Kelly, Dylan, and Donna. During Toy Fair, the actors came into our office to promote their dolls. I ran around our office to get a glimpse of my favorite stars.
Me On The Barbie Thanksgiving Day Parade Float
I am sure anyone who knows me is tired of my brag, but here it is anyway.
I was in the Thanksgiving Day Parade, on the Barbie Float.
One day a Mattel VP was in our office and told us that they were looking for volunteers. The Barbie float consisted of dancers dressed up like Barbies who performed for the camera. They needed people to sit on the float in pink sweatshirts and wave to the crowd as it made its way through NYC.
I couldn’t jump up fast enough. I was in! So was a friend in my office.
We woke up super early and took a taxi to the beginning of the parade route. Then we did just what our job was – we smiled and waved. I remember being freezing cold and not caring at all. It was fun and exciting!
The highlight of my day was that the Saved By The Bell Float was right before us. When the float came to the end of the line at Macy’s, we got off and had to walk through the closed department store. My friend and I did that with the cast of the popular Saturday morning show. When we tried to reach some balloons that floated to the ceiling, none other than Mario Lopez himself got them down for us. I practically swooned.
The Ever-Lasting Effects Of Being A Barbie Girl
We all grow up. Eventually, I married, had two daughters, and left Mattel to be a stay-at-home mom.
I may have given up my fun job, but I am still obsessed with all things Barbie. During my time with the company, I gathered an incredible collection of Barbie Dolls, which I will treasure forever. Some I just love, and some are actually worth something, especially the beautiful designer dolls.
My mistake was showing them to my daughters when they were young. To preserve their authenticity, they need to be kept in perfect condition in the box. Needless to say, two little girls didn’t really care about that. But I did not let them near the really good ones.
I am also a huge fan of the color pink, aka Barbie pink, which is why my blog is named The Widow Wears Pink.
Lastly, I have more than one print hanging in my home from Vintage Barbie & Ken Photos. I absolutely love the fun and creative pictures of my favorite doll and her friends.
I cannot wait to see the fabulous Margot Robbie in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. My boyfriend was nice enough to get advanced tickets and will sit with me as I eat popcorn and obsess over my favorite character. I am counting the days. “Come on Barbie, let’s go party…”
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.