Firstly, a word about my account name. I in no way want to suggest that I am like a Barbie, it was just what was on my mind at the time. If this was a blog about furniture, I would probably have ended up being called Mrs Table or something. I’m sorry, my imagination failed me.
Its not just me – lots of collectors love Lea. In one guy’s blog, he said that he spent about a year “rescuing” run-down Leas from jumble sales and charity shops and doing them up. Flickr is decidedly Lea-heavy. On eBay, Lea dolls seem to go for about three times the price of their blonde counterparts.
There are a couple of things about Lea. Firstly, she doesn’t mug for the paparazzi. I’ve never seen a Lea with a full smile on her face, just variations on that little smirk. This means that she is a much easier doll to place in a scene and photograph, whereas there are tight limits to what you can do with the eternally happy doll. I notice that they have recently released a Mona Lisa Barbie, but for some insane reason they haven’t used the Lea face – I think they missed a trick.
I also think her racial ambiguity is a real plus point because it gives her such a fluid, changeable identity. Although she is best known as an Asian doll, there are also black Leas and white Leas, and everything-in-between Leas. The doll in the photo is one of these in-between Leas – depending on what angle you look at her from, she could be Chinese, but she could just as easily be Italian, Hispanic, Indian, Egyptian etc etc, or her imaginary heritage could be a mix of any number of races.
The Lea featured in these photos would be more accurately described as a Kayla, as she comes from the Fashion Fever range. Originally, she was a 2005 “seven days of style” doll and came with a number of coordinated outfits (7, I’m presuming). Sadly, only two of these remain, together with her original boots and handbag. Her hair is a bit frizzy, but believe me when I say its a vast improvement from when I got her. I think some patient child must have spent a productive few hours rubbing her hair and clothes on a nylon carpet, before putting them in a carrier bag and storing her next to a radiator. Kids, eh?