Very long-haired Barbies quite often cop for criticism. Barbie’s long, long hair, its said, perpetuates an unobtainable image of female beauty – what woman could possibly grow hair that long and thick? As I want to show in these pictures, the answer to this is clearly that nobody could. Usually, I think most people who take photos of dolls with very long hair, including me, try to tuck some of the hair away and arrange it in a manner that makes the doll look more human and plausible. This time, I have tried to do the reverse of this. The thing is, I think that this super-human abundance of hair is all good.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that all dolls should be long-haired. I have posted plenty of times in favour of a diverse range of doll hair types (don’t worry, I’m not going to start going on about it again, I promise). However, it is undoubtedly the case that in many cultures, long long hair is a desirable attribute. Its not just a European tradition, what about Native Americans, Indians, Eastern Asia? In these cultures, long hair is not just associated with beauty, its also associated with strength, fertility, spirituality, sexuality, romance and youth. I suppose a big part of this is because hair grows fastest and strongest on the young – I generally had hair no shorter than waist-length until I had my son, then it went into decline and I had to cut it shorter. Very, very long-haired dolls remind me of fertility icons and pre-Raphaelite paintings, and I am entertained by the massive overstatement of their crowning glories.
I think its telling that three of the dolls in these pictures are fantasy dolls, mermaids and cloud queens, and that its usually the fairytale dolls who get the really superhuman hair. I don’t think that these fantasy dolls should be seen as inferiority-complex-inducing role models. Really, we know hair doesn’t grow like that, in the same way we know that in the real world, there are no women with flippers. Personally, I am quite happy for a corner of Barbieland to stay reserved for these strange creatures.