Monday, June 04, 2012

The end of the road for fashion, as well

I've been following the online conversation about Anchorage's lack of sartorial splendor with a great deal of amusement. Most the response seems to fall into the reverse snobbery of "We're Alaskan, hunting, fishing, practical, cold, mud, better-than-Lower 48, blah blah blah..."  I know the conversation, of course, having occasionally drifted into that tone of superiority, particularly when somewhat intoxicated and standing next to a bonfire.

If you've spent any time here out in Goldstream Valley, you'll notice a strange phenomenon that occurs (primarily to college age people) when they move in to our fair neck of the woods. The guys sprout beards and we're not talking neatly groomed ones -- more like a permanent napkin. Carhartt's and ripped lined flannel shirts flourish in the closet. Folks begin to look like they are living in a waterless cabin, or mushing dogs, or both, whether they are doing so or not. I guess you might call it shabby chic. But suddenly, if you're not dressed in our own particular brand of the Alaska Uniform, well, you are just uncool, dude. You probably don't know what biodiesel is. It's a lot like my teenage years, oh so many moons ago, when all the defiantly 'alternative' kids dressed exactly the same way in response to the overwhelming conformity of the suburban mall kids.

I found Andrew Halcro's blog over at Alaska Dispatch the most interesting of the recent bunch, because he was born here, grew up when it was a lot less, well, let's just say civilized, and he doesn't feel the need to conform to the strange idea of what "Real Alaskans" wear.  As he points out, marvelously:
The bottom-line: for a state that screams, preaches and promotes individualism, why do we insist on all looking the same?
Frankly, it's a good thing that Squarebanks was not one of the cities included in Travel+Leisure poll. When I go to Anchorage, I actually break out my nicer clothes and do what passes for dressing up:  The nice, shined pair of Fluevogs, jeans with no stains or rips, and shirts that button up (or at the least t-shirts that don't have a political statement or a liquor logo on them.) If it's a meeting I'm attending, I break out the khakis and the fleece jacket without dog hair on it. Let's call it "Fairbanks Smart Casual." Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. On occasion I see very well-dressed women in makeup, nylons and dresses. They are usually Russian.

All of this, however, brings to mind an old gem featuring stereotypes in Barbie form. It first made its way forwarded through the Series of Tubes and ended up on Alaskan blogs. Originally, it had about five entries, but it has since been adapted, tinkered with, and reposted (without attribution, natch, so I have no idea as to origin or who to credit.) The following differs slightly here and here. 
Anchorage Barbie:
This fit Barbie has a graduate degree in science, resources management, and/or is an environmental lawyer.
Comes with brand new Range Rover with roof rack holding skate skis and a kayak. Accessories include running tights, cross-trainer shoes, a husky named Kobuk, and a cell phone. Boyfriend Ken comes in seasonally employed climbing guide, fishing guide, or Girdwood bartender models. Sold at New Sagaya.

Wasilla Barbie:
This Barbie comes with big hair, country music CDs, a .44 Magnum and a
Weekender Kit includes snow machine, 4-wheeler, and fishing boat. Brand new duplex dream house and lake cabin are also available (sold separately). Ken comes with a Ford F-350 Diesel pick-u truck with gun rack
and trailer, his own snow machine, 4-wheeler, boat, and .44 Magnum. Ken is available every other two weeks when he is not working on the Slope. Alternative Military Ken available by special order. Sold at Wasilla Wal-Mart.

Fairbanks Barbie:

This graduate school Barbie kit includes a tiny cabin with detached outhouse. This Barbie has hairy legs, hat hair, and a fleece jacket covered with dog fur. Accessories include extra long johns, shower bag, head lamp, case of Ramen noodles, and bug dope. Also available is a beater, 1979 model Subaru, complete with plug-in, ice scraper, shovel, and set of studded tires. Ken is either at the Marlin, the Howling Dog, the Loon, out hunting, doing field work, or is long gone. Sold at Big Rays.

Ketchikan Barbie:

K-town Barbie lives in an old leaky sailboat that is moored down in Thomas Basin -- in a slip that is conveniently located just off the ramp directly below the Potlatch Bar. For basic transport, she runs a beat up old 18' skiff that has a rundown Johnson 30 hp outboard that leaks oil. She can out fish most any old Norwegian bachelor fisherman; can cut down old growth cedars faster than most any drunken old Swede logger; and can shoot and skin black tail deer that foolishly wander down to beach at sunset faster than any alcohol fueled Finn bushwhacker. Her Ken can be found anytime, day or night, on the deck of the Alaskan Bar pontificating -- often with wild, exaggerated arm waiving and finger pointing -- as to exactly where the Bridge to Nowhere is going to land over on Pennock Island

Sitka Barbie:

Sitka Barbie has most of the same endearments as K-town Barbie except she recently shot her Ken in what is colloquially known as a Sitka divorce. She took the life insurance money and purchased a brand new 26' Hewescraft "Alaskan" with enclosed heated cabin and a 200 hp Honda outboard. Sold only at a kiosk on the cruise ship dock during June, July & August.

Barrow Barbie:

This Barbie comes with blonde hair with dark roots, kuspuk and parka. Accessories include a 650cc Skidoo snow machine, tiny ulu and baleen carving kit. Ken alternates between being a whaling captain and working
for the North Slope Borough. Available at the northern most KFC store.

Juneau Barbie:

This Barbie comes with membership cards for the Alaska Democratic Party, AFSME/AFL-CIO and Alaska Conservation Voters, little red X-tra Tuff boots and an un-used fishing outfit. She lives in tiny apartment above an obscure bar and works as a secretary in the State Office Building. Drives rusty Subaru Forester, but has peeled the "Forester" lettering off because she feels that logging is evil.  Ken claims to be a fisherman, but actually he is also a secretary in the State Office Building. Available in gift shop at the Baranof.

Valdez Barbie:

This Barbie was not born here, comes with an Alyeska modular or a brand new cookie cutter house by Stan Peterson. This Barbie is best accessorized with an Alyeska husband. She drives a brand new Chevy Suburban, or other large 4x4 vehicle, needs it to get her over Thompson Pass when it has snowed 5' overnight. Has 2.5 children and runs all over town shuttling them from event to event. She typically does not mind the snow or rain, but is always complaining about the weather regardless.Valdez Barbie also spends her weekends shopping in Anchorage although she could get the same thing at the Prospector or so the ad says.

Kenai Barbie

Kenai Barbie is just a weekend Anchorage Barbie that fishes.

Homer Barbie

Homer Barbie spends summers on the Spit and winters going from protest to protest, also hears voices in her head.


FlictheBic said...


Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Those barbie descriptions are spot on! Especially the one of Squarebanks Babs.