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13 People At The National Barbie Collectors Convention Tell Us Why They Love Barbie

Last week, 800 hardcore Barbie collectors gathered in Nashville to buy, sell, and trade dolls, clothes, and tiny furniture. I asked vendors and attendees one question: "Why do you love Barbie?"

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1. "I love Barbie because she gives me the chance to be creative."

Winona Dimeo-Ediger

If you saw this guy walking down the street in his AC/DC T-shirt, you would probably think, "There's no way that guy makes stunningly detailed mid-century Barbie furniture in his spare time." And you would be wrong. So wrong.

2. "It brings back the warm fuzzies of my childhood."

Winona Dimeo-Ediger

This lady has been selling Barbie memorabilia for the past 28 years. The most expensive doll on her table? A $12,995 sales prototype from the '60s in mint condition. Don't even think about playing with it.

3. "Because she is eternal, like our city — Rome!"

Winona Dimeo-Ediger

Meet Giuseppe and Alessandro, costume designers from Rome who created the souvenir Barbie for this year's convention. They brought 40 dolls to sell (adorned in ornate gowns of vintage Italian lace, sequins, and tulle). They sold out in an hour. "We love this job," says Giuseppe. "We are very lucky."

5. "Inspiration."

Winona Dimeo-Ediger

"I was on an artistic search. Painting from my soul," says Debbie Curtis, an artist who specializes in gorgeous pop art Barbie paintings. "Sometimes I even painted blindfolded. One day I painted a piece with my eyes closed. When I looked at it, I said, 'Oh my gosh, that looks like Barbie!' So I painted more Barbies, had my first show in Oklahoma City, and sold out instantly." The rest, as they say, is history.

6. "She changes with the times."

Winona Dimeo-Ediger

"One thing Barbie is really good at is capturing the fashion of the era," says Maria, this year's convention organizer. Want proof? Check out the Jackie Kennedy-inspired bouffant bob Barbie rocked in the '60s.

7. "She encompasses the history of pop culture — all in 11.5 inches."

Winona Dimeo-Ediger

"For women, Barbie is about creating the childhood you always wanted, but maybe didn't get," says Joe Blitman, who worked as a screenwriter before he started selling Barbie collectibles full-time. "For men, it's more about the fashion."

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