Recently, a friend posted on a face book that there is a Farmer Barbie Doll. It was easy to see they didn’t use me as the model. No matter how hard I try, my hair will never bounce like that. My coveralls and sweatshirts are leftovers from our growing farm children. I am pretty good at not wearing competing implement or seed dealer apparel at the same time.
With a bit more research, I discovered ‘Barbie’ has a lot of agriculture related items. Interesting… But when you think about it, all Barbies ever designed encompasses the many different roles of a farm wife/farmer.
Almost every farmer’s wife is a farmer in some way. It may not be verbalized aloud in the wedding vows, but when you marry a farmer, the livestock and the dirt comes right along with him, so to speak.
All rural church pastors know very few farmers, male or female, will be able to attend meetings planned during certain weeks of the year. They’ll be busy in the tractor, planting or harvesting or out in the barn feeding hungry mouths that will later feed other hungry stomachs.
The pastor could ‘skype’ his meeting, but there would be a lot of interruptions from the buzzing of monitors to the loud bawling of a newborn calf.
It’s a good thing Barbie is so versatile, because that is how we farm women need to be.
The athletic Barbie comes in handy every day as we juggle time and energy to get the work done. The tennis racket might be replaced with a pitchfork, and instead of a cute little convertible, we find ourselves at home in a tractor cab. The only thing that doesn’t change is the happy smile, right?
Surely, those chore clothes are definitely needed. Rarely is the work around livestock the job of one person. It helps to have a set of extra hands, especially when trucks of baby chicks or turkey poults arrive. Or when sows are farrowing, calves need weaning and the goats are out and the windrower is stuck in the waterway. And sometimes, all of these events occur simultaneously.
Nurse Barbie comes in pretty handy when that occasional nasty bug hits the farmhouse. A tender touch and calm mind are important when there’s a broken bone or other major health issue.
Somewhere in time, there had to be an Office Barbie. Someone to make sure the bills get paid, bookwork done for taxes and regulation paperwork done. The level of her involvement varies from farm to farm, but those office management skills come in handy.
Chef Barbie is any easy one – our cooking skills are born of necessity and perfected thanks to all the experience that comes from feeding a hungry, hardworking family several meals every day.
It’s no wonder we (I) don’t exactly look like the Model Barbie.
Grandma Barbie is a special one. Our eyes really do sparkle when those little ones come to visit. Thankfully, the Barbie designers remembered that sometime we do need a little sleep and even made a Sleepy-time Barbie. It’s always a debate as to who really needs the nap.
Ah yes, the Dress-Up Barbie. Is there any woman who doesn’t like the splendor of a night out with her favorite farmer? The glamour of exchanging blue jeans for a special dress, heels and jewelry. Yes, we do clean up quite well.
I think the creators of the various Barbie dolls may have had farm wives in mind all along. We farmwomen are a diverse group, yet we have many similarities, especially when it comes to doing the best we can, no matter what fashion describes us at the time. Even when it is multiple roles in the same day.
If Barbie’s creators look to farmwomen, there will never be a shortage of inspiration for the next model.
This was written in honor of the many farmwomen, past and present, that I admire so much and inspire me in many ways.