Copyright © 2022 Amy Sterling Casil

One of My Idols Was a Barbie Doll: The Others Were Black

Growing up in So Cal in the 60s and 70s

Amy Sterling Casil
8 min readFeb 4, 2022

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First, I’m the author of the good Barbie poem. The funny one any little girl can read and enjoy, not the ugly, sick one written by the famous poet who obviously never operated on her Barbie. Second, if there had been a Black Barbie option when I was a kid, I would have wanted the doll.

I used to come home from school every day and watch reruns of the original Star Trek. Who was, by far, my favorite character? Uhura! Who else? Nurse Chapel was too tall and stiff and didn’t have much of a part. I know a lot of people on the autism spectrum share Temple Grandin’s love of Mr. Spock. Others like hotheaded Kirk or folksy “Bones.” What was my other choice of idol and role model on this show? One of the scantily-dressed alien ladies dancing for Kirk? It could only be cool-headed, resourceful, beautiful Uhura. Oh, if only I could have nails like hers … someday.

Then sometimes I watched Batman. It was pretty dumb. But I liked a certain one of the Catwomen. Not equally tall and stiff Julie Newmar or Lee Meriwether. I, a small person, liked small, lithe Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. And her name was perfect! Kitt — for kitten, the Catwoman.

And then I used to watch this show about a working single mom and nurse: Julia. It starred this beautiful, poised, soft-spoken woman: Diahann Carroll.

These were my three idols when I was a little girl growing up. I won’t say I hated my blonde hair and pale skin that turned red in the sun. But I didn’t care about it much. And I didn’t want to look like my idols so much as act like them. There were aspects of each I found fascinating. Most of all, their cool self-possession and confidence. As a painfully shy girl in a super abusive home, I wanted to acquire their self-confidence and poise. Each of them were tough, too. I admired that toughness in the face of adversity.

When I was a kid, I learned “Everyone’s homes are not the same.” Like many others from abusive homes, nearly any other home was preferable to mine, and school was also a “haven.” I just read an article by another author on Medium detailing her horrible high school history experience in a class taught by an awful, racist teacher, using awful textbooks…

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Amy Sterling Casil

Over 500 million views and 5 million published words, top writer in health and social media. Author of 50 books, former exec, Nebula nominee.