Kids & Family

Barbie Under Quarantine? You'll Smile When You See What This Grandma Has Created!

She was already creating scenes of Barbie doing things in real life, so why not during a pandemic?

When I was little I loved my Barbie dolls. I created "apartments" for them in an old book case. Took them on "vacation" in a Barbie motor home (my neighbor's koi pond was Barbie's "lakeside retreat"). I dressed them, styled their hair, and sometimes even cut it, with not so attractive results.

So I can relate, at least a little bit, to Tonya Ruiz. She's loved Barbie dolls since she was a little girl, except for the dark time in her life when she was living the Barbie life as a troubled teenage super model.

"When I had kids, I did not want Barbie in the house, and I actually started speaking and writing about body image, and I always used Barbie as an example of something that you don't want your children to grow up thinking, 'That's what you're supposed to look like'," Ruiz told Insider.

Tonya Ruiz loved Barbie dolls as a child, and became a teen model.Tonya Ruiz

These days Ruiz is a happily married grandma, whose rediscovered love for Barbie dolls (thanks to her granddaughters) and how they've evolved, has lead to a hobby that's created a cult following for her.

For the past four years, she's been creating and photographing realistic scenes meant to show Barbie doing things in real life, like working from a home office, decorating her house, pursuing hobbies like photography. She posts the photos on her Instagram account, GrandmaGetsReal.

Doll-sized Tonya and husband Ron with toy-sized bikes.Tonya Ruiz

It only made sense for Ruiz to show how Barbie (and Ken) might be living through a pandemic:

Some of Ruiz's scenes are a little more serious, like Barbie on the job as an essential worker, including one scene where she's a nurse and another as a grocery worker.

Ruiz makes her scenes highly detailed by using some of the tiny items she's colletcted, even a miniature can of SPAM!Tonya Ruiz

Most of Ruiz's scenes are parodies of our coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home habits: Barbie eating junk food while binge watching TV, covered in flour baking up a batch of bread, even Ken dressed for a Zoom call in a suit coat on top and heart-covered boxers on the bottom.

What Day Is It? Barbie needs a calendar and days-of-the-week underwear to remember.Tonya Ruiz

Ruiz is able to create such realistic scenes thanks to her huge collection of life-like minature items. "Just getting them and putting them together, it takes time," Ruiz told Insider. "Coming up with the idea probably takes the longest, and then once I have the idea, I spend a day making it."

While Ruiz has gotten requests from all over the world to sell her creations since they've gone viral, she has no plans to do so. She's just happy that people are enjoying them. "It's relatable no matter where you're living — everybody's been in some sort of a quarantine or lockdown. My dolls are a comedic commentary on quarantine."

Post-Pandemic Baby-Boom Barbie and Ken speculate on what' s happening when quarantined couples have nothing better to do!Tonya Ruiz

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