The Barbie Quotient

by Jason Tudor

My 4-year-old daughter has 28 Barbie dolls. I counted each of them. Twice. I came up with 28 both times.

To be clear, that’s 16 more bodies than the Los Angeles Lakers can put on the floor, including bench players, on any given night. It’s Oprah’s hairdressing staff. It's an all-toy cast of "Glee." With just the human capital in this lot, you could do a pretty good production of "Les Miserables." About this many eager faces flock to meet you when you walk into American Eagle Outfitters (provided you're under 25). You get the idea.

Up until a few weeks ago, I figured my daughter had four or five of the dolls around the house. Wow, did I lowball myself like the media trying to count Tiger Woods mistresses. The truth? The others were hidden like plastic, blond ninjas.

My wife and I bought the dolls, mostly as rewards for good behavior. They also came as birthday gifts and gifts from friends. A few of the dolls were actually passed on from grandparents, including many of the clothes. However, the majority of them were off-the-shelf, fresh-from-the-box models.

Speaking of, if you haven’t bought, attempted to open and distribute the contents of a new Barbie doll, take heed. Opening the packaging and removing every … singlepieceof plastic … brings about the same amount of joy as standing in line at the DMV – for the rest of your life. Now, picture yourself doing this 28 times. Every pink high heel. Every small purple brush. Every hair dryer that needed a flower sticker. Every accessory that will eventually find its way into our vacuum cleaner bag.

Now, at some point, I knew we’d reached critical mass. When I finally counted all of them (a very guy thing to do), I presented this fact to my wife.

“She has 28 Barbies,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said, unimpressed.

“That number doesn’t bother you?”

“She’s a good girl.”

“Wait. Don’t change the subject. Are we going to continue to buy her Barbies?”

“If she wants them.”


Now, if you’re scoring at home, then you know the cost for these dolls. Their clothing and the litany of accessories that accompany the dolls would make the cast of ‘The View’ blush. Mattel should hang a plaque at corporate headquarters with a picture of our family on it that reads, “Thanks for funding our corporate 401K account.”

The thing is, if a guy has 28 guns or, like Jay Leno, 28 cars, we’d barely blink an eye. That 28 pairs of shoes easily line my wife’s closet floor doesn’t even faze me (any more). Twenty eight stuffed animals? No worries (unless you’re like 30; then, that’s just … odd).

And it’s not like the want for dolls will end soon. She’s 4. When the opportunity comes to add another to the Ken's Tribe of Artificial Stepford Wives, my daughter’s eager. Aggressive. She’s even making choices online so that when the toy aisle appears, she’s prepositioned for success. Did I mention she’s 4?

Realizing that my daughter’s Barbie story is similar to many of your own, what I seek here is not sympathy. Rather, as I am the first male Erma, I seek solutions. That is, I want to get some return on investment from these dolls that, collectively, would have bought me an iPad. I have three ideas so far:
  • Garden markers. Dress each up in a different outfit and stick them into one of the rows of the garden to indicate a plant type. Of course, that only accounts for about a half dozen.
  • Creepy stop-motion zombie extras. A film you might see on YouTube; a little ketchup on the outfits, some bad sound effects, a guy screaming “Why are you picking on zombies? WHYYYYY?” Long, leggy, artificial BRAAAAAINZ!
  • Barbie juggling. Still working the logistics of this one.
And of course, she’ll continue to play with them, but there are 28, which means some will be waiting for my daughter's attention. So, your ideas are welcomed here. Meanwhile, I think I’ll go count them again to see if she's sneaked any others in on me.

(You can read from Jason at http://www.jasontudor.com)


  1. Oh, that's priceless! I wasn't blessed with a daughter, so I don't have any real life advice for you. I can't even draw on my own childhood experience because I had one Barbie. Ok, actually make that two Barbies if you count the creepy, giant Superstar Barbie Head on a Platform I performed makeup and hairdo experiments on until I was twelve. (Yes, twelve).

    My brother's G.I. Joe always had better ideas than I did anyway. He liked to storm my Barbie Town House. I'd go to my room to find Barbie bound and gagged on the floor of her kitchen while he stood guard from the perch of the elevator.

  2. *imagines a row of plastic, frozen-smiled, forever-perky garden markers*

    That is possibly the creepiest thing I've ever imagined. O.o

  3. I love that you keep repeating she's only 4. This is also a guy thing. Women don't count age when it comes to Barbies, clothes, shoes, trips to the hair or nail salon, or boxes of chocolates purchased.

    Can you save them all, keep them pristine, then sell them on ebay or the 2030 equivilant, and make enough to fund her college?

    If I had done that with my original Barbies frome the sixties, I'd be a happy lady. Instead, I gave them to a younger cousin when I turned 13. Bad choice.

    Excellent writing and great topic!

  4. I'm imagining them marching along to their respective posts in the garden, to the tune of the Wizard of Oz soldiers. "o WE o. WeOOOOOOO o"

  5. LOL @Carole! Nice Job, Jason! Yes, been there done that with the Barbies w/ my daughter. She was over it before I was. We handed them over to my nieces - its their mother's problem now :)

  6. "She's a good girl." That's funny! I think you're seriously outnumbered, Mr. Tudor, and you're learning when to just wave the white flag.

    I know how you feel. Five men, one woman...that's fuzzy math.

    Good work.

  7. My suggestion for usage? Give her a sibling! My sister had a barbie collection like that. Had... My enjoyment came from chopping their hair and sacrificing them to the altar of GI Joe. :) I've always had a thing for guys in uniform!

    Angie: agreed with the creepy factor.

  8. Slip them into the gift bags at your daughter's 5th birthday party (although I'd lean AWAY from a Barbie theme). Either that, or start hiding them in the van, leaving a doll at every grocery store, bank and doctor's office you hit- sort of a freaky calling card....but don't get caught- you don't want Barbie Dad as a nickname.

    Oh, and just so you know- by age 6 this will all switch to Polly Pocket, where the hoards of tiny shoes and accessories will need tweezers to pick them out of the couch, and every squishy plastic outfit will require an adult to help dress and undress.

    -a mom of 3 girls....sigh.

  9. Mom of 2 girls here.

    I like Janet's idea of giving a few as party favors. My girls have three each, but they have moved on to action figures. Currently Star Wars action figures. (Which makes me giddy!) Maybe there is a charity organization for foster girls or orphans who would love those dolls.

    In the meantime, enjoy the 'girly' stuff while it lasts. In no time she'll be asking for a car. ;)

  10. I love this piece! I don't have any help for you, but I have nine Barbies in various states of party-readiness beside my desk. I'm 51 years old. Why do I have Barbies? Because my husband has discovered that if my ADD self has something to do in the car, he doesn't have to stop at every rest area on the *&^%$! highway. This summer we're going to the beach. He just procured Mermaid Barbie as an emergency preparedness measure.

  11. Can't help you out too much here. No daughters and only a handful of barbies over the years. Three of which were Charlie's Angels Barbies. The rest were sacrificed to the gods of the great outdoors. I'm pretty sure a few are still buried in what was once my back yard in Western Pennsylvania.

    Yes. I am weird. And slightly scary.

  12. OMG, all of you are cracking me up! Barbie calling cards?

    I didn't have that many barbies -- maybe five or six, plus at least one Ken - and that was plenty for me. We used to play out whole scenarios for them (they somehow always ended up pregnant) and I don't know if we could have kept track of that many personalities.

    Good luck Jason, and great post!

  13. Jason, you get something like triple bonus points for being so in-the-know about Barbies. My husband is clueless. Though given your preoccupation with them, I think that's okay. ;)

    Great post!

  14. Mother of 2 girls here, now 17 and 14, and I'm so looking foward to Monday! But, when they were 7 and 4 I decided to make a "Barbie Christmas tree" as a special gift at Christmas. We had Christmas trees of different sizes decorating each room. After they had opened their gifts under the family room tree the girls were told to cover their eyes and we brought them into the dining room to see a tabletop tree decorated with pink lights and 2 barbies and all their accessories hung as ornaments. I had at least as much fun as they did! They eventually segued into American Girl Dolls, very fun, which thankfully Grandma funded.
    Thanks for the fun story!

  15. This is great. Another option for Barbie uses: Ken's Guide to the Karma Sutra.

  16. Great post, Jason. I grinned from one end to the other. My favorite line: "standing in line at the DMV – for the rest of your life." The italics made it, though. :)

  17. I pray she doesn't learn of the American Girl Doll series. They're bigger and hence, their accessories are bigger too. But they could serve as safety pylons if she gets 28 of those. So there's that...

    Funny post! Thanks for sharing it.


  18. I never counted my daughter's Barbie dolls. But I'm sure she had them all. In fact, she probably still has them somewhere up there in her room. She never wanted to get rid of any of her dolls.


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