Fashion Designer Barbie – My Essay for NPR

“A Grown-Up Barbie” My Essay for NPR’s This I Believe Series

The Barbie movie is taking over the world. Have you seen it yet?

Back in 2006, I did an essay about Barbie for NPR’s This I Believe series, titled A Grown-Up Barbie. 

Like many girls, I learned to sew so I could make clothes for my Barbie. The essay is about how the blond-haired, blue eyed Malibu Barbie affected my red-haired, freckled self — and my career as a fashion designer.

You can listen to this 4-minute essay below or click to listen on NPR. It’s a timeless piece and still relevant today.

How did I get this opportunity? 

I was slogging away at my desk in the mini backroom of my retail that passed for an office when the phone rang. A woman said politely, this is Emily from NPR’s This I Believe.  We’d like you to do an essay for us. 

I thought I was being punked. Sure, it’s just a random call from NPR. 

No seriously, it is. 

How did you get my name? 

Well, we have a list of names and yours was on it. 

Definitely getting punked. 

But it was legit and I was thrilled. 8 rounds of edits later, my essay was approved to be read on air. Whaaaaaa?

I remember hurrying to the WTTW recording studio in Chicago at Navy Pier – my heels clacking on the sidewalk, trying not to sweat too much. My brain was going a mile a minute. I wanted it to NOT suck. 

I loooooooved the This I Believe series on NPR and wanted to make them proud. The taping went well (with heavy guidance from Jay Allison) and my essay aired on the radio. Boom. And then — well looky here – I was honored to be included in the book of essays.

This I Believe book

This New York Times bestseller “features 80 essayists (60 from the NPR series and 20 from the 1950s series) sharing their most deeply held beliefs. (Published in 2006)”.

Contributors include:

– Isabel Allende
– Gloria Steinem
– Colin Powell
– John Updike
– Eve Ensler
– and me!! Jane Hamill. Holy schmoly that’s exciting. 

There are famous people (Albert Einstein!) and random people (me) included in this book. A few of the most popular essays are Be Cool to the Pizza Dude and Always Go to the Funeral. My essay, A Grown-Up Barbie, is on page 103.

Just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get any more epic, I was invited to do a reading for the book with Studs Terkel as the host – STUDS F-ING TERKEL! A real Chicago legend who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for The Good War and is remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago. 

I couldn’t attend the reading, unfortunately (a major kid thing), but dayuuum I would have liked to meet Studs Terkel.

A legend.

Just like Barbie.💓



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