Mattel, maker of Barbie dolls, is changing the toy’s image. Today, instead of the anorexic model of the past, she’s manufactured in different body shapes and varying skin colors. Also added to the line is Barbie’s Inspiring Women, likenesses of accomplished women who serve as role models for young girls. The changes must be working. After the company’s flagging sales for the last few years, the first quarter of 2018 has Barbie showing a 24% sales growth. Not bad for a company that’s had 4 CEOs over the last 6 years. (“Barbie’s Diversity Dance,” by Lisa Marie Segarra, Fortune, June, 2018, pg. 22.)
One of the dolls from the Inspiring Women line is 96 year-old Iris Apfel, a designer of clothing, shoes and jewelry — fashions available on the Home Shopping Network as well as Bergdorf Goodman. Apfel is the oldest woman to have a Barbie likeness for sale, but it’s not her first honor. When she was a mere 85, The Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated an exhibit in its costume wing to her designs. In 2014, Iris, a documentary about her life, made its debut. (“Work, by Kristen Bahler, Money, June/July, 2018 pg. 19) Apfel’s doctor wants her to slow down. She responds: “For me, retirement is a fate worse than death.” (Ibid, pg. 19.)
I have to agree with the designer. At 81, I fill my days joyously with writing. And if not writing, I present writing seminars, co-host the YouTube book review series, Just Read It, (Click) write my blogs, (Click) promote my four books (Click) and inch my toward a fifth, a memoir. Frankly, most days flash by at a breathless pace as the world flows through my computer. Seven hours pass without notice. After that, I collapse into bed for a good night’s rest, eager to begin the next day anew. If I can squeeze in time to break bread with a friend, that’s an extra plum.
I can’t speak Apfel, but I feel I am productive despite my long years and hope to continue at this pace a few more. So imagine my surprise to learn that Leonard da Vinci was a procrastinator. The friars of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception commissioned him to do a painting of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child. They hoped to have it installed in 7 months. He delivered it 25 years later. “(The Fine Art of Procrastination,” by Andrew Santella, Money, June/July, 2018, pg. 22.)
Life dictates no single way to get things done. There’s fast, slow and all the degrees in between. Even Barbie took her sweet time to change. I’m no genius, like Leonard and not famous like Apfel. Nevertheless, I’ve been around long enough to know the journey matters as much as the accomplishment.