Paper Dolls Are Partially At Fault


There are days when I wonder why I subject myself to the process of writing.  As much as I love wordsmithing, it often  keeps me up at night (or wakes me from a rare, valuable sleep) and drives me crazy on a daily basis.  I can’t help but wonder, what got me into this mess?  Then I’ll come across something the reminds me I’ve never really had a choice when it comes to playing with words.  Right before I left for London, I cleaned out a drawer and found a surprising stash of childhood toys, including a large envelope of my old paper dolls. I smiled like a complete idiot and embraced my inner child.  I pulled out each doll with all their clothes and instantly began to remember how they once let my imagination run free with interesting characters and plot lines.  Even when my age was a single digit – I was making up stories!

Paper dolls were among my favorite toys for a number of reasons: 1) I could afford them on my allowance. 2) I loved the hands-on process of punching them out.  I can still hear the sound of the perforated edges “popping” 3)  I could change their clothes much faster than the standard doll. Faster wardrobe changes meant I could get through the story I made up before I forgot how it ended.

Above:  The Heart Family paper doll set.  Awwww, I loved playing with this family.  I remember how I always had the little kids playing hide and seek with the parents.

Above: Teddy Bear Family, (Western Publishing, Co.).  This remains my favorite set of paper dolls. Not only are the bears adorable, but these were made in a unique way.  All the fabric for the clothing and the bears was photographed instead of drawn to give everything a more realistic appearance of texture.  My bear family did everything from family picnics to trips to the lake!

Above: Maxie and Barbie & The Rockers.  The fun thing about these is I still have the matching standard 11½” dolls! Barbie and her short-lived rival Maxie provided endless hours of make-believe magic. In particular, my rockers would give concerts and lip sync to cassettes I had lying around, while Maxie was always on a shopping trip to pick a dress for her prom.

Above: William and Kate.  Apparently, I will never be too old for paper dolls.  While in London, I couldn’t resist buying this fantastic set of dolls and clothes.   Whenever I have a few minutes I sit down and cut out an outfit or two, (no perforated edges!).  It’s amazing how these little dolls are once again firing up my creativity.

The need to tell stories has been part of my personality for as long as I can remember.  Before I ever picked up a pen, my imagination was always in overdrive with my paper dolls, stuffed animals, and just about anything else around me.  As an adult, the storytelling part of my soul exists as a writer and as a history teacher (I joke around that I spend my entire day telling stories in the classroom . . . they just happen to be true stories!).   I take it to be a good sign that in both work and leisure I am truly in my element, doing what I love.  Even though words sometimes threaten my sanity, I am always going to be a writer.  However, I have to put some of the blame on my paper dolls!

c.b. 2011


18 thoughts on “Paper Dolls Are Partially At Fault

  1. heh heh. oh my, I remember paper dolls. It was a fun way to play “let’s pretend”. We don’t play enough as adults.
    Don’t you just love being reminded that you are “truly in your element, doing what you love”
    how wonderful!


    • My new paper dolls have definitely brought that inner child out to play again. I’m having so much fun. 🙂

      I do love the reminder . . . funny how it always shows up right when you need it.


    • I have loads more – Miss America, 2 additional sets of Barbie, Princess Diana’s clothes (I’m still hoping to find the doll), another set of William and Kate, Big Sister, and a wedding party set. Who knows what else might be hiding in another drawer. 😉 Precious childhood belongings always bring back the best memories and offer so much inspiration.


  2. these are great! i recently bought my 6yr old god-daughter a set of magnetic dolls [same premise, the clothes are magnets that stick to the dolls], and it was so much fun listening to her make up stories about what they were doing, saying, where they were going. it made me so thankful for my own creativity and the opportunities i have to use it.


  3. “I can’t help but wonder, what got me into this mess?” OK, I’ll take the blame for that… oh, and not giving you enough allowance so all you could afford was paper dolls! But…[there’s always a but,] I am indeed taking credit for teaching you that creativity is the tool that enriches your life.


    • The paper dolls only helped to pull out what was already in my genes and enrich the encouragement you always gave. Every time I sit down to write, I think of how you always taught me nothing is impossible. And how to find my way around any craft store. 😉


  4. Susanne

    I had a set of paper dolls that was the wives of the Presidents. They had these amazing gowns and I would spend hours dressing my dolls, trying decide which dress I liked best. I blame my paper dolls on why I shop at Ross so much. Thanks for this reminder of all the time I spent with all my different paper dolls. I wish I still had them and you’ve inspired me to want to buy a set!


    • Amazon has a fantastic selection of paper dolls . . . I admit that I’ve been shopping a little. 😉 The paper dolls you described sound like so much fun! I’ll bet they inspired so much more than a shopping habit . . . you have a storyteller’s soul. 🙂


  5. Enjoyed your post and rememberings. My favorite as a child was the booklet of punch-out, put-together valentines with small items to add like a bouquet of flowers, a heart, a present.


  6. I remember —
    My earliest set of paper dolls. Ziegfield girls, from the Ziegfield Follies, which I was too young to see in the movies, I think. But the dolls were amazing! Towering headpieces, gorgeous gowns, impossibly beautiful dolls —
    A lifelong fondness for glitz and glamour (not that you’d know that to look at me, but in the deepest recesses of my soul) — that’s the legacy of those paper dolls.
    (Second favorite, Japanese women with a full accoutrement of elaborate historic kimonos, much the same dynamic!)
    Thanks for this post —


    • Oooo, those Japanese dolls sound fascinating! 🙂

      No one would ever guess I was the least bit interesting in fashion (I’m a blue jeans/t-shirt kind of gal), but my paper dolls always let that part of myself come out in full force. Bring on the bling!

      Thanks so much reading! 🙂


  7. I totally had the Heart Family set and the Barbie and the Rockers set! And yes, my sister and I also created stories with them. In fact, we transformed my bedroom into their city. And, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I probably played with Barbies for FAR too long (and I won’t admit the age I forced myself to put them away). I would actually write scripts for them on paper plates and my sister and I would use the Barbies to act out our scripts. Barbies and paper dolls are definitely to blame for my writing. 😉 Good post!


    • Niiiice! You know, I probably played with mine for far too long, as well. When I took the picture of them for this post, I couldn’t help but play with them a little. 😉

      Thanks for reading and I’m glad it brought back so many wonderful memories!


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