The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us

by Tanya Lee Stone

Love her or hate her, it seems that most contemporary girls and women have strong... read more

Love her or hate her, it seems that most contemporary girls and women have strong feelings about Barbie. Tanya Lee Stone gives voice to opinions at both ends of that spectrum, from those who deplore Barbie as a “destructive force on the self-image of women all over the globe” to others who see her as “a symbol of empowerment.” In this even-handed account, Stone covers Barbie’s birth in 1959 through her various incarnations and evolutions over the following fifty years. The first few chapters serve as a brief biography of Ruth Handler, the woman who co-founded Mattel and conceptualized the idea of a teenage fashion model doll that could serve as an alternative to the more ephemeral paper dolls of the time. Barbie’s physical changes over the years—body proportions, facial expressions, racial and cultural characteristics, as well as her vast and much-debated wardrobe, from couture to trendy to career, all receive lively discussion. Barbie’s friends and relatives, Barbie mutilation, store-bought versus homemade clothing and other aspects of Barbie’s world in the lives of children are all brought to life with numerous personal anecdotes. Detailed source notes, a bibliography, and an index conclude this fascinating examination of “an American icon.” (Age 10 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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