From a young age, the line “Being plastic is fantastic!,” always associated with Barbie, was ingrained in my head. I never thought too critically about it—it was a catchy little rhyme—but as I grew older, I began to see just how warped the message being sold to my Barbie-obsessed friends and me was. To this day, I maintain a love-hate relationship with Barbie: the girl’s got style, and I can’t help but admire her determination to experiment with every career from veterinarian to pizza maker; however, her body type has been proven multiple times to be beyond realistic, a narrowly idealized figure being sold to young girls as the pinnacle of beauty. It’s not just that Barbie and friends lack diversity in their shape: her form is downright impossible to achieve.
You can imagine how excited I was to stumble upon Margaux Lange, a New York-based jewelry designer who seems to share my sentiments. She created The Plastic Body Series: a handmade accessories line which pays homage to pop culture’s fascination with Barbie by salvaging old doll parts and transforming them into wearable art. As sweetly nostalgic as they are creepily Lynchian, the accessories themselves are a psychedelic gaggle of doll heads dangling from necklaces and disembodied eyes peaking out of rings. While one typically wouldn’t think of “dismembered female body parts” as empowering, it somehow works when the body in question was totally artificial to begin with. By reworking different Barbie parts into pieces, including a necklace that is a mash-up of different plastic chests, the result feels like a wearable statement forcing society to critically examine those plastic body parts constantly deemed beautiful. Plus, Lange’s work has given me the ultimate D.I.Y. inspiration for how to transform the Barbies that I was never able to purge and alter them to fit my teenage self. Perhaps next up will be decapitating Furbies for a new accessories line.
text by Emma from The Emma Edition