I’m 50, and I play with Barbies. Okay, I cosplay with Barbies.

Derek Newman-Stille, eight-time Prix Aurora Award winner for Speculating Canada, encouraged me to write this post. So, it’s all their fault. 😉

Actually, I’m glad they did nudge me to do this because the strangest thing happened to me five years ago. I saw a Uhura doll online, and for some reason, after decades of not caring a fig about Barbies, I had to have her. That was the start of it all. Since then, I’ve climbed aboard the Barbie Fashonista line—which is full of different body shapes, hair colours, and skin tones—and bought the ones that caught my eye the most. In the last year, I’ve also bought Barbies with visible disabilities, then I bought a Barbie and decided they were neurodiverse, so I made a little neurodiversity symbol for their outfit. But my Spoonie Barbies Network is for another post.

Also five years ago, I finally caught the bug for cosplay. Dressed as a fashionista dalek, I met publishing director Nathan Fréchette of Renaissance, who is also a cosplaying nerd, and not only did Renaissance become my publisher, Nathan also became my “cosplaying spouse.” (I have my husband Bruce, but Nathan is my “husband” for fun duo cosplays.)

Put these two geekdoms of Barbies and cosplaying together, then you can understand where I went next. It began with my loving the comic Rat Queens. I even cosplayed as Hannah, whom I call the “sweary magical elf.”

ID: Me, dressed as Hannah, reading Life in the ’Cosm.

I really wanted a Hannah doll, but none were available. So, one day while Barbie Browsing, I saw this one:

ID: Brunette Barbie with a grey one-shoulder top and pink skirt. Her hair is worn long in the back with two tiny buns on top.

Hmmmm, I thought. Then a lightbulb went on. I bought the Barbie, and with some help from materials at home, my past experience with styling hair, and my trusty Cricut machine, Barbie transformed into Hannah. At least she resembled a Barbie who was cosplaying as Hannah!

ID: Hair is cut into bangs. The buns are large on top and the rest of the hair falls just beneath the shoulders. She's carrying a wizard's staff with bright blue stone. Her outfit is a strapless pink top with gold edging and golden swirl design on each breast. She has a black belt with the gold Rat Queens rat-face belt buckle. Her red mini-skirt has more golden designs. On her skin are swirly black tattoos.

I felt really happy with the result! So, a little time passed, and I got nostalgic for Jem and the Holograms. Once again, I browsed for vintage Jem dolls. YIKES! Too expensive for me. Then PING! I decided to try the cosplay thing again.

I found this Barbie:

ID: Barbie with extremely long pink and blond hair under a crown, wears an aqua and pink dress.
(Amazon product image for Barbie Endless Hair Kingdom Princess Doll, Pink.)

But after finding a dress online that I thought suited Jem, a pink marker, and a furious cutting of her locks while channeling my 80s teen past, she turned into this!

ID: Barbie as Jem from Jem and the Holograms. Blonde and pink hair is cut into 80s rocker style. Pink diamond makeup shapes surround her eyes. Her slim strapless dress is black with silber stars, with a pink ruffled bottom that bows out like a mermaid cut.

I can almost hear her singing Twilight in Paris!

Finally, last week I saw Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Oh my word, I loved this film so hard. I think it was the next day when I decided to search for Harley dolls. And, you guessed it, I decided to make another cosplay attempt.

This is the before shot:

ID: Barbie with blond hair and pretty pink dress, holding a gift against a birthday party backdrop.

Isn’t she sweet? Very girl next door. So, I did a thing:

ID: Blonde hair is cropped in small layered ponytails. One tail has pink dye and the other teal. She's wearing a fussy pink crop top with cut-off jean shorts (that have black stripes and red stars). Red ribbons became suspenders. Tattoos on the face and legs done with marker. And for fun, I added pale pink feathers to the side of the top.

I’ve always been someone who loves crafts, so to me, cosplay is “fancy-dress crafts!” It’s really fun, and when my brain is too exhausted to write for my creative outlet, this is another way to be inventive.

Anway, I decided to share my hobby because I don’t think you’re ever too old to enjoy getting your geek on, even with toys or games from your childhood. Life is short. Have fun, I say!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to strategize how I’ll become Bob Ross’ happy little tree.


Cait Gordon, in a black and white digital sketch

Cait Gordon is a disability advocate and the author of Life in the ’Cosm and The Stealth Lovers. When she’s not writing, Cait’s editing manuscripts and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also teamed up with Kohenet Talia C. Johnson to co-edit the Nothing Without Us anthology in an attempt to take over the world. Narf.

4 thoughts on “I’m 50, and I play with Barbies. Okay, I cosplay with Barbies.

  1. No, you are never too old to have fun with dolls and toys. These cheaper playline Barbies are ideal for creating your own characters as are those you find in Thrift shops and garage sales where a bit of raggedy hair doesn’t matter.

    Liked by 1 person

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