This granny is a Barbie girl in a Barbie world.
A grandma from Arkansas is living her dream life in plastic as Barbie in a pink home with an all-pink wardrobe — and no Kens are allowed.
Dena Daniels has loved the Mattel dolls her whole life and played with them until other children started to bully her for being “too old” for it all.
For years she felt she was hiding her “authentic self” by hiding her love of Barbie in order to adhere to societal expectations.
“I was concerned about people’s approval and pleasing those around me, especially men,” she told Kennedy News and Media.
But the mom-of-two was tired of hiding her love for all things Barbie, so she decided to “live her truth” by “pink-ifying” her home during the summer of 2021.
“One day I just woke up and thought, ‘I’m not getting any younger; I want to do what I want to do. I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it, I want to be me,’” she admitted. “I’ve always loved Barbie, ever since I was a little girl. I had them and played with them as long as I could until I got made fun of.
“It’s the way that I express myself. It’s my soul coming out to express itself on the walls. I’m not doing anything to harm anyone — I’m expressing my art and my soul.”
But the 54-year-old was never really a collector of Barbie — she just wanted to be Barbie and to have a Barbie dream house.
“I do have a Barbie house and some Barbie accessories, but I don’t put a whole lot into that because I’m the Barbie,” she said. “Honestly, in the beginning, I was kind of made fun of. People would say, ‘You’re a full-grown woman — why are you playing with toys?’”
Now Daniels eats, sleeps and breathes the perfect Barbie pink, putting on her pink robe first thing in the morning and making her coffee and toast using a pink coffee pot and toaster.
She even painted her house pink and dyed all of her clothing different shades of the color, from rose to magenta.
Her Volkswagen Beetle is also Barbie-fied — complete with pink wheels and pink hearts.
“Once I got started, I just couldn’t stop. It’s been a journey of, ‘How much pink can I add before it gets tacky?’ ” Daniels shared.
She isn’t opposed to finding love, but the lack of men in her life allows her to “express herself more” — and she believes women should “get another husband” if they can’t fully express themselves in front of him.
“[Some women] say, ‘If I didn’t have a husband, I’d do that.’ It lets me know how many are not being their true self. I think, ‘Get another house’ or ‘Get another husband,’ ” Daniels said. “Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for compromise — but this house is not a house to accommodate a man, and that’s on purpose.”
Daniels said that if a woman wants to live a Barbie-core life, they shouldn’t let any man hold them back.
“I’d say to other women, you should just follow your heart. Go slow, do it bit by bit. Start wearing pink clothes or adding more to one room at a time,” she advised. “Realize that when people say negative things, that’s on them. That’s something that isn’t healed within them. It is scary. It isn’t easy to paint a house pink and live in a pink house, but it’s worth it.”
Though she did date after transforming into her Barbie-core lifestyle, she never made her house “available” and designed it in a way that no other “future Ken” would be comfortable in.
“I do not have a husband, by choice. I think it means I can express myself more. When I moved into the house, I was dating someone but decided on purpose to not make it available for him to move in with me,” she said. “I’ve lived a lifetime of pleasing others, and I decided it was time to please myself.
“Not that a man couldn’t be comfortable here, but I don’t want a man. I don’t want a man to be comfortable here,” Daniels clarified. “I’m such a giver, I spent my life giving to everyone else. Now I just want to do what brings me joy. It was just part of my healing journey. I think healing my inner child is part of that.”
Daniels’ life of “being Barbie” has extended to her neighbors, who now call her by the moniker — and she even has a human-size Barbie display case she can go in and pose as a life-size doll.
She gets recognized at local supermarkets around town and is often called “the pink lady” wherever she goes.
“I’m an individualist; I despise being like anyone else. It always bugged me to be like everyone else. So, I decided to just be me out loud,” Daniels shared.
But Daniels doesn’t keep the house to herself — she hopes that the Barbie house will create a little “magic” for kids in her neighborhood, too.
“At Halloween, I open it up for the neighborhood kids to come. The little girls go insane. I think it’s quite magical to them, so I let them come in and have pink candy and snacks for everyone,” she said.
The irony that Barbie-core is so trendy now while Daniels got mocked for it isn’t lost on her.
“What’s so funny is now everyone’s into Barbie,” she said. “I’m not crazy after all.”
“I’ll absolutely be going to see the new film,” she said, noting that she’ll be entirely recognizable. “I’ll be wearing my pink clothes and carrying my Barbie purse.”