Anyone can become Barbie! (With a bit of help from the dressing up box and a lot of help from experts): Frazzled 40-something mum of two BETH HALE gets a stunning makeover to become the iconic doll for a day
Sitting at the wheel of my very own pink Cadillac, the curious weight of my sun-bleached blonde hair tumbling down my back, for the briefest of moments I allow myself to imagine what it must be like to be Barbie.
An impossibly beautiful creature with an enviable wardrobe, endless legs, a tiny waist and a perpetual dazzling smile on her face. It’s the stuff of dreams, right?
Admittedly, not my own childhood dreams, if I’m completely honest, I was more of a Sindy girl.
But there’s no denying that Barbie fever is gripping the nation ahead of this Friday’s release of Greta Gerwig’s movie, starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken.
Blessed with a naturally sun-kissed glow, golden locks and a slender figure, turning Robbie into Mattel’s best-known doll can’t have been too arduous a task.
But can anyone, even a mother-of-two discovering Barbie fever 40 years too late, become the iconic doll?
Together with a crack team of Daily Mail experts, I decided to find out…
Sitting at the wheel of my very own pink Cadillac, the curious weight of my sun-bleached blonde hair tumbling down my back, for the briefest of moments I allow myself to imagine what it must be like to be Barbie, writes BETH HALE
BETH HALE underwent an incredible transformation to emulate Margot Robbie and become Barbie
Much of the film’s appeal is that it brings to life the outfits Barbie has worn in her many, many incarnations (she’s had 200-plus careers in her action-packed 64 years).
The creative genius behind the clothes is British costume designer Jacqueline Durran, who won an Oscar for her work on 2019’s Little Women.
‘I had buyers going out every day looking for clothes in specific colours in every shop in London,’ Durran told Vogue.
My own costumes come courtesy of the magician-like skills of Mail stylist Alice Hare, who turns a pink and white gingham wrap dress by Crew into not just one Barbie creations, but two.
First up, she turns it back to front and with a pair of scissors refashions it into a prom-style number with spaghetti straps and a waist cinched with a pearl-buckle belt she makes herself.
Then for our second wardrobe number, she wields her scissors once more to turn it into a scalloped hem mini-dress, adding a bow she finds on Amazon.
When it come to my shoes, Alice customises several pairs with spray paint and sequins.
For the blue and white outfit Barbie wears in her car, Alice finds a swimsuit from Matalan and a headband from online marketplace Etsy, and raids her own jewellery box for pieces she can spray paint or beads she can string together.
‘I’d say you have to shop around for the Barbie look, and be prepared to do some DIY,’ says Alice. ‘The drawback is it’s hard to do sustainably since Barbie enjoys a lot of synthetic feather, crystal, plastic jewellery!’
The next step is hair. I’m afraid we had to go deep fake here – there was no way I had either the volume, length or colour to achieve Barbie’s crowning glory.
Hair designer Simon Izzard, who worked on the hair of all the artists in the music video for Dua Lipa’s Dance the Night Away, the film’s title track, weaves magic with a can of styling spray and scissors, turning a £30 blonde wig (Paks, shade 613 to be precise) into a mane Barbie would be proud of.
My experience has taught me that anyone can be Barbie with a bit of help from the dressing up box and a lot of help from the experts – even a frazzled 40-something mum of two, writes BETH HALE
He says: ‘For a big budget movie like this, both Barbie and Ken would have had many wigs, all shapes, colours and styles – ready to go.’
Film productions usually go for real hair wigs because they look convincing and are much easier to work with than the affordable synthetic option we went with. Thankfully the gentle heat Simon deploys doesn’t melt my wig, which take about 45 minutes to fit and style with a few added extensions on top of a very restrictive wig cap.
If Barbie were a real woman she’s be 5ft 9 inches tall (I’m not far off that) with an 18 inch waist (I’m a long way off that). Short of drastic surgery, there wasn’t much I could do to prepare my body for this journey into a fantasy world, apart from slapping on a layer of moisturiser, with a tiny bit of tanner, to take the edge off my pale legs and embrace Australian Robbie’s naturally peachy tones.
For my face, make-up artist Oonagh O’Connor steps in, focusing on giving my skin that flawless finish Barbie is known for. She might not be able to erase the wrinkles, but she can certainly mask them.
Barbie’s trademark look is actually surprisingly natural, but lacking the youthful sparkle of Robbie, Oonagh darkens my brows, and uses some carefully placed eyeliner, shadow and lashings of mascara to give my own weary eyes a bit of Barbie polish, before adding peachy blush and a slick of glossy lipstick (pink, naturally).
My Barbie look is almost complete, but not without a final spritz of Margaret Dabbs intensive treatment foot oil (£23) for there is one over-looked Barbie feature that does come under close scrutiny in the movie: her feet.
There is a four-second sequence at the start of the film’s trailer which has gone viral; in it Barbie (or rather her slender legs) strides gracefully into view in a pair of jewel-encrusted heels, before she sheds the shoes and steps forward.
But instead of her feet descending to meet the ground, she remains perched on her toes, as if the heel was still there; which of course is just what Barbie’s actual feet would (itals)do if you removed her shoes (unless you purchased your doll after 2015 when Mattel finally granted its most famous daughter articulated ankles).
I’m sweating just thinking about how I’m going to cope teetering around in vertiginous heels when I haven’t worn anything but flats for years, writes BETH HALE
Now I am about to take on the Barbie foot challenge, not something my size seven, bony and battered clodhoppers are looking forward to.
To prepare I have booked myself in for a medical pedicure with Nikoletta Louka, podiatrist with ‘queen of feet’ Margaret Dabbs.
‘They aren’t too bad,’ she insists as she files and buff and trims every inch of my feet to perfection before telling me alarmingly that each foot has 250,000 sweat glands.
I’m sweating just thinking about how I’m going to cope teetering around in vertiginous heels when I haven’t worn anything but flats for years. Easy it is not.
But as I stumble wildly I’m reminded that perfection isn’t always what it seems. Even Margot Robbie had to hold on to a bar and use sticky tape to keep her shoes in place to do this.
My experience has taught me that anyone can be Barbie with a bit of help from the dressing up box and a lot of help from the experts – even a frazzled 40-something mum of two.
How does it make me feel? For just a moment, as I twirl in my pink dress, blonde ponytail swishing over my shoulders, I think I could get used to life as Barbie: flawless and commitment free with a costume for every occasion.
Then I remind myself how long it took to get here… and decide the dressing up box is best left to my daughters.
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