Meet the real-life Russian Barbie who lives with 12,000 dolls

Tatiana Tuzova says she wants the real world to be as bright, beautiful and pink as Barbie Land

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As the proud owner of 12,000 Barbie dolls, Russian collector Tatiana Tuzova was more excited than most to watch the Hollywood movie based on her idol.

She was not disappointed.

Like the character played by Margot Robbie in the film, Tuzova inhabits both a fantasy realm of beautiful dolls and a real world where things are far from perfect.

Of the two, she prefers the first, depicted in the movie as Barbie Land.

“To some extent, this is my world as well. And I even recognised myself in the film character a little bit, because I also feel sad when I come back to grey reality,” she says.

“I want everything in the real world to be as bright, beautiful and glamorous [as Barbie Land]. But when you're out in the real world, there are so many things missing.”

Hit by sanctions over Ukraine, Russia is coming late to the Barbie party. The film is not available for official distribution, but some cinemas plan to bypass the issue by screening a digital copy of it “for free” as part of a double bill with a shorter film in Russian.

Tuzova has supplied 300 of her dolls to go on show at an unofficial premiere of the film in Moscow on September 9. She says she had hoped to see it for the first time on the big screen, but reluctantly watched a pirated version to satisfy media requests for her reaction.

Her obsession with Barbie began in childhood.

“I think Barbie is a role model. Her slogan is 'You can be anything'. I looked at her and understood that I could be anything as well,” she says, speaking in her apartment, dressed all in pink with an enormous bow in her hair.

Behind her, an entire wall is filled with hundreds of Barbies, from Army and Air Force to Party Time and Pretty Flower – all in their original boxes to preserve their value.

Tuzova says her father died when she was six months old and she had “nothing” as a child.

“And I decided that I would have everything. And everything will be pink.”

She says she liked that the Barbie heroine of the film remained true to herself even when she crossed into the real world.

“She remained herself: She didn't put on weight, didn't dye her hair brunette. She just adapted, let's say, to the real world – as, in general, I did.”

Updated: August 27, 2023, 6:21 AM