- Quarantine has brought out many quirky hobbies, and for one former model and current grandmother, the time in lockdown has been the catalyst for taking her Barbie collection to the next level.
- Tonya Ruiz, the creator, repurposes Barbies to represent real-life scenarios inspired by the "new normal" of the pandemic.
Barbies, while a classic doll toy, often get flack for their unrealistic nature. That’s why one grandma decided to do something to make the nostalgic doll a bit more realistic.
Meet Tonya Ruiz, the grandma and former model behind @grandmagetsreal—an Instagram account you may very well have seen trending on your Instagram feed. While Tonya has been collecting Barbies and minis (teeny-tiny versions of common fashion, food, and household products), it wasn’t until quarantine kicked into gear that she put her passions together to shed light on the current COVID-19 situation.
"I had always wanted to make parody Barbies like I had seen on the Ellen show,” she says. “She had funny realistic ones like Distracted Driver Barbie and Hoarder Barbie. When the quarantine started and I saw a couple of funny 'Pandemic Barbies'—one was drinking wine, another had toilet paper and Clorox—I thought I should make a Realistic Curvy Barbie like me—wearing stretch pants and eating snacks.”
And thus, #barbiegetsreal was born.
On May 22, Tonya took to Instagram to ask her now 70,000+ followers which quarantine Barbie they could most relate to. The post featured all-too-relatable Stay Home Curvy Barbie “Wearing Stretchy Pants,” Home Salon Edition, Zoom Ken, Binge Watching Barbie, New Hobby Edition, What Time Is It Edition, What Day Is It Edition, Quarantine Quarreling Couple, Homeschool Mom Edition, and Bread Baking Barbie.
And let’s just say the internet fell in love.
“Omg I would love to purchase these!!!” one commenter exclaimed. “Lol I'm totally Stay Home Wearing Stretchy Pants,” another chimed in.
After all the love—including over 18,000 likes—on her first quarantine post, Tonya kept the momentum going with Pandemic Hero Grocery Worker Barbie—which includes a Barbie with a mask, gloves, cash register, and groceries.
While many followers ask if she sells the Barbies, they’re also more than happy to simply scroll across such positive content in an otherwise often negative time. One commenter quipped, “This is such fun. Wish you could purchase these. Can’t wait to see more of your creative little squares. They make me smile.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Each week, Tonya posts more Barbie set-ups. Here’s to hoping she keeps creating cheerful content for us to fall head over heels for all over again.