Section: archive

Let your freak flag fly: Camp Kenyon adventures with Barbie

By Frances Sutton

Springtime is upon us here at Kenyon, and you know what that means: things are about to get warm n weird in Gambier. Why is that, you ask? Well, I dont have a scientific explanation for it, but I would say it has something to do with the sunny weather putting people in a very strange and happy mood, completely foreign to these parts from December through March. There are a lot of reasons for this transformation: everything is beautiful, people stop hibernating, Bookstore ice cream is awesome and, perhaps most importantly, theres no more coat-losing BS at parties because theres no more coatwearing (Im looking at you, Ganter). Even procrastination is more fun in the springtime; instead of watching Netflix under the covers alone, you get to sit on Ransom lawn with all your friends and pretend to be reading a schoolish book. Warm weather makes Kenyon kids do kinda wacky things not necessarily illegal things, but things that are not normally socially acceptable. Casual sunbathing in public places, for example. I can only speak for myself, but Im really into this phenomenon. Theres a certain understanding between students that comes with this strange territory, an understanding that says, I barely know you, but the sun is out and neither of us is gonna do our reading for tomorrow, and its a beautiful thing.

Kenyon gets fun and loopy in the spring, and Im here, as always, to advocate for embracing the spring weirdness. We only have a few weeks left! What do you have to lose? I know, I know, your dignity thats a classic hang-up. You know what? Ive found that dignity always grows back. Moreover, Ive found that theres no adequate replacement for an amazing college story. Now if you think Im gearing up for a salacious Shock Your Mom story, you are about to be disappointed. My Shock Your Mom wisdom is pretty standard: if youre choosing between near-nudity and wit, think of what would actually shock your mother: my mom is not shocked by near nudity, but she was disturbed by my homemade shirt that read, I eloped with a man who doesnt care about sports. Stay true to the theme.

No, this story is about one of the weirdest and best things Ive done at Kenyon: I partied with a Barbie doll.

It was spring of sophomore year, and I was in an art class called Book Arts in which we had to make a text-free book. I decided to make a picture book called, Barbie Goes to Kenyon. When I was little, I was a big fan of giving my Barbies radical makeovers; I know Barbies get a lot of flak for giving girls body image issues, but mine always ended up looking like the Cynthia doll from Rugrats, so I was kinda cool with the fact that I would never look like my Barbies. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make a Kenyon Barbie who wore a baggy sweater and boots, lived in Caples and did the New York Times crossword in pen. Naturally, I had to expose Kenyon Barbie to the Kenyon nightlife, so I decided to take her to all the parties I went to that weekend and take pictures of her with anyone who was up for it. This is how I learned a fundamental and bizarre lesson of college partying: props are one of the fastest ways to make friends.

Barbie came with me to Pink House on Friday night, and she was an instant hit. Half the people who asked to take pictures with her were complete strangers. Saturday morning in Middle Ground, I was taking pictures of her with a coffee, and I heard some guy at a nearby table tell his friends, Hey, I partied with that girl last night, while pointing at the Barbie. Her reputation preceding her, Barbie was in popular demand on Saturday night at the New Apartments and Ganter. Guys and girls both loved her; she was the Jennifer Lawrence of party props. You know when you have a friend visit you at Kenyon and he/she gets macked on super hard because the fresh face is so astounding that everyone on campus wants his/her body? Bringing Barbie to parties was just like that, except without the added envy of your friend getting with 10 people in one weekend.

The Barbie Goes to Kenyon experience was awesome and hilarious. The pictures of Barbie and Kenyon from that weekend are unparalleled. It was also one of the most bizarre/socially unacceptable things that Ive ever done (on purpose) at parties. The important thing to remember is that people totally went with it, which was crucial to Barbies transition from creepy to funny. Maybe it was the warmth of springtime allowing for an extra measure of strange behavior in Gambier, or maybe Kenyon kids are always down to rage with a hipster Barbie doll. Whatever the case may be, having a party prop is always a successful party trick so keep that in mind in the next few weeks, especially if you have a friend-crush or a real crush youre scared to approach. Just go for it! Comparatively, nothing you do will be weirder than bringing a Barbie to an all-campus party. If you are planning on bringing a party prop, I recommend the food prop (a box of cookies/cereal even a baguette works); its a fan favorite. Happy spring, Kenyon. Lets get weird.

Frances Sutton 13 is an anthropology major. She hasnt done laundry in a month, but her DJ skills are unprecedented. Shes never said the phrase YOLO, but she lives it on the daily. Hug her before she graduates. Her email address is

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