Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Privations of a Wartime Childhood

In 1940, I would have expected there to be some downscaling of nonessential industries as the country ramped up for what seemed like an unavoidable conflict. Across the Atlantic, bombs were already falling on London, and the mood must have been darkening.

Still, does that justify selling these terrifying creations to unsuspecting little girls, and from an outlet as august as FAO Schwarz?

Fabulous gown, I suppose, but would you want her staring down at you with those sightless eyes, night after night?

And what's with the reproachful gesture? Where's the play value in an imaginary friend who always seems to be saying "why don't you ever listen?"

And no, the braids don't help.

Of course, the store did sell some rather more conventional playthings, but even there, something seems a little off...

In her disturbingly detailed lingerie, this little charmer seems to be auditioning to be Storyville Barbie, brought to you by E.J. Bellocq.

While more fully dressed, she recalls nothing so much as the Vivian Girls, conjured from the fevered mind of Henry Darger.

All in all, it must have been - for these and so many other reasons - a disturbing time to have been a little girl. Just ask Margaret O'Brien. Or Princess Margaret.

1 comment:

  1. something Myrna Loy-ish about those first three - especially around the mouth.