the pathos of kennedy dolls on etsy, 2.1 (emotions via britney)


you remember our old friends, butofcourse 🙂


and you know i’ve written about this AT LENGTH.

because i find these things terribly poignant. and i think they speak to the human condition.

who among us hasn’t been here at some point?

or here:

or HERE:


in my prior discussions of the pathos of jackie dolls on etsy, i have had occasion to talk about the pathos of dolls in general and the pathos of jfk dolls on etsy too. often they are a set:

often, he is just as perplexing in doll form:

entirely too often, he veers towards howdy doody.

well, YO.

today, i’mma bring you a new horror. a horror so great (i’m doing it again- building up a drama in the intro that the reality will not live up to, but whatev…)

a horror so great that i literally called my father into the room so that we could go on the journey together.

we’ll skip the first image and do then them in order, starting with her:

the thing is this isn’t so bad. i mean, she is ALARMINGLY dead-eyed, yes, but it could be worse.

and it captures something of her.

even if it is only the distance between her eyes.

while i do not know that i would look at this and think, my lands, that is a jackie kennedy doll! i would at least probably recognize is as a doll engineered to look like jackie kennedy, as so many things were in the early 1960s.

(Yale Joel—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

and so, in the landscape of horrible imitations i will deem this, at the very least, not egregiously awful.

i should pause here to note that one of the major contributing factors to the pathos of the jackie dolls on etsy is the photographs of the jackie dolls on etsy.

we’ve discussed this for in relation to this image:

which haunts me to this day, a full two years since i first encountered it, and which i swear i will one day frame.

(what would students make of this coming into my office? hmm…)

my point being that it isn’t just the dolls. it is the positioning of the dolls in various poses so as, ostensibly, to best show them off for sale.

as a buyer of a jackie doll on etsy, i no doubt want to see the back of the jackie dolls.

as someone randomly looking at photographs of jackie dolls available for purchase on etsy, i couldn’t care less about their condition. i care about the precarity of the circumstances in which they seem to find themselves.

but i am aware of the photographer and the photographer’s mission. and the potential haphazardness with which one, as a seller and a photographer, constructs a scene.

do i think i have spent 9,000,000,000% more time analyzing this image than the person who took it?


do i think the person who took the photographs of the jackie doll under discussion… this jackie:

in attempting to sell this jackie and her jfk companion deliberately positioned this jackie doll and this jfk doll so as to make it appear they were initiating above-the-clothes sexual acts?

that i do not know. but while we’re on the subject…???!

ignore jfk doll’s face. we will return.

for now, note the pose.

and note all we bring to this biographically.

these are people with whom we are, many of us, quite visually familiar in terms of their everyday lives.

they ate:

(Jacques Lowe)

they read:

(Jacques Lowe)

they gazed into the bright american future:

(Jacques Lowe)

very occasionally in public they held hands:

so this is rather more intense than we usually see them:

i am not convinced any of these advances are wanted.

are their arms meant to be interlinked? or were they deliberately arranged to be indifferently reaching for one another’s groins?

the other photographs give no clues.

we have jackie doll’s legs coyly tucked beneath her as they taught us at ballet class:

the standard trompe l’oeil hair…

is the necklace glued on? is it unlatchable? who IN THE WORLD has fingers small enough to close that clasp? other than jfk doll?

the obligatory out of focus shoe bottom snap:

upon seeing this:

my father exclaimed: right where they shot him!

which- given that every single google image search for jackie or jfk invariably results in an unwanted encounter with jfk autopsy photos- i can, without any hesitation, officially confirm.

from the jfk doll’s bullet entry site we move to jackie’s bosom:

i imagine the pearl necklace (which [enter factsOline] is far longer than any she ever wore, fyi) is indeed glued in the back and hangs loose here.

i also fail to understand why mid-century doll producers were incapable of making a jackie doll who wasn’t barrel-chested.

i know, i know, it’s because she’s strung up internally and the barrel chest results from the linking of her cloth body and her wood arms via her nipples. like so:

BUT WHY??!?!?!

surely there were better ways available to make dolls.

barbie (whose eye make-up is better than i remembered) was not having this problem.


whycome they were?

because, FOR REAL. no.

(Mark Shaw)

while we’re here, let me go ahead and point out that there ain’t no way that jfk doll’s feet could hold up jfk doll:

is that why these dolls are always sitting down?

because, due to horrible manufacturing decisions, their feet are three times smaller than their bodies demand?


i was so busy looking at where their hands were that i failed to notice that they are ridiculously small.

so i think we can definitively conclude that, yes, jfk doll could handle the clasp of jackie doll’s pearl necklace.

in light of these dolls, barbie looks like a legitimate human being, non?

i truly do not understand why, given the great advances made in the mass production of dolls in mid-century, these dolls are such shite.

and now… coup de grâce.

i’m reading a biography of judy gardland. fun fact: in the mid-1930s, at MGM, in the makeup department they were doing 1,200 make-ups per HOUR.

riddle me this: how many make-ups do you think this jfk doll has been subjected to?

because HOLY MOSES that is unreal.

as a reminder, jfk looked like this:

credit where credit is due: they kinda nailed the hair:

otherwise, um.. no. (though returning to it half an hour after writing this, is it not so bad?! are my eyes adjusting? does it just take time, like seeing in the dark, and eventually the true jfk reveals himself from beneath the oily mask of brows and blush?? or is it simply that, over the course of writing this blog post, i have come unhinged?! )

does this doll look familiar?

my father thought pee-wee:

then again my father always thinks pee-wee.

but, to go a bit more high-brow, is it not the spitting image of rex harrison?

(though this is now begging the question of whether rex harrison is pee-wee!)

particularly older rex harrison…

plus, y’know, a dewy glow and a paintpot of rouge.

having never once thought that jfk bore any likeness to rex harrison, jfk doll raises the possibility.

i’ve written before about how i loved playing with paperdolls as a child because they enabled mixing of people across periods. so that kermit roosevelt could flirt with marilyn monroe and the father from the american family of the pilgrim period could marry vivien leigh.

(totally tangential sidenote: in 2018, let us all move through life with john [colonial]’s joie de vivre:

pretty please.)

this jfk doll raises the possibility of a lineage that joins us all, a link running from rex harrison to pee-wee to barbie to jfk to humankind.

i appreciate both the unlikeliness and the proximity.

perhaps we are all a paintpot away from being rex harrison and closer to pee-wee than we now know.

3 thoughts on “the pathos of kennedy dolls on etsy, 2.1 (emotions via britney)

  1. Pingback: on andrew garfield’s ensemble | finding jackie

  2. Pingback: the pathos of jackie kennedy dolls on etsy, 3.0 | finding jackie

  3. Pingback: the pathos of jackie kennedy dolls on etsy, vol. 3, no. 2 | finding jackie

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