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Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll
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Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  248 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Was Barbie was the first feminist doll? She always worked in interesting positions, never married, never had a child, and never did house work. Yet today, many women who played with Barbie when they were children consider her to be an inappropriate role model, although these same women often have interesting Barbie stories to tell. In Forever Barbie, cultural critic, inves ...more
Unknown Binding, 325 pages
Published May 25th 2004 by Goose Lane Editions (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 643)
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Richard Kramer
Barbie is already made of material that will never decompose, but she is lifted to real immortality by the dea-ex-machina of the sublime writer/critic/memoirist/historian MG Lord, who proves a point I have always struggled to make, which is that one doesn't need pubes or a navel to make a real impact in the world. The book is hilarious, but only when Lord wants it to be. It is also as deeply serious as Leon Edel's five volume biography of Henry James. It takes the measure of this odd object who ...more
Kristine
Forever Barbie by M.G. Lord, a Kindle book I started reading on August 9th. I was in a bind about if I should read a non-fiction biography or a sociological/social commentary book. .... Bingo.

This book's writing style is surprisingly cheeky and really well-documents Barbie's physical and occupational changes to the times, right down to the rotation of her torso in 1967 and the examples of pseudosexual accessories that Barbie used vs Ken's (i.e. Barbie's boxy purses with bananas spilling out of i
...more
Sara
I’m not sure why I picked this book up. I do not have any strong feelings toward Barbie. I am neither a collector nor am I a basher of this plastic doll. I understand the appeal for young girls to want the doll and I have some very fold memories with her. There was something fun about changing her outfit whenever I wanted and letting her have a different career every day. In fact, the less items that you have, such as the dream house or pink corvette, the more imagination that you can use with h ...more
Tori
I'm doing a project where I try to read books from all kinds of genre. Poetry, art, fiction, non-fiction, etc.

This was my women's non-fiction choice for October and I thought I would have to slough through it like other non-fiction that I've read this year.

I was pleasantly surprised. I loved this book. It had everything! Sarcastic humor? check. Feminists? check. Making fun of old-fashioned homemakers from the 50s? check. And when it got to the part of My First Barbie and the ugly Western Barbi
...more
Kip
As others have said, this is great fun but the author reaches a bit to make her points. Loved, loved, loved her account of playtesting the "Barbie Queen of the Prom" board game with a variety of top-level career women and committed feminists, and watching them "devolve into back-stabbing, predatory cartoon mantraps out of Clare Booth Luce's The Women" in their scramble to be popular and score boyfriends.
Ishita
A fascinating look into the economic, social, and emotional repercussions of the Barbie phenomenon. Mixing anecdote with interview and archival material, Lord presents a fleshed out portrait of Barbie's claim to fame and her effect on the culture she originally set out to mimic. Intelligent, investigative and informative.
Shannon Renee
This was a daily special from the Nook Book store and I bought it because I collect Barbie. I don't know what to expect from this book, but was excited to read it. However you can tell by the one star rating that I did not enjoy this book.

First off, its dated. This book goes about as far as the early 1990s. That's almost 20 years ago. A whole lot has changed in that time.

Two, this book needed organization. The writer should have spent more time organizing the book into a timeline, or something.
...more
Lachelle
Not sure why I finished this book it was so bad. The writing was poor, the structure confusing, the insight so-so. I did learn some interesting things but it would have made a better article than a book. Highlights:

- Barbie's proportions "were dictated by the mechanics of clothing construction. The doll is one-sixth the size of a person, but the fabrics she wears are scaled for people".
- Barbie was created by a women and-in my opinion-was a more quality product when women were running the line
...more
Amy
I thought this would be interesting but instead it was very dull! There were a few illuminating points, but only a few in the entire book. I was relieved to finish this most scattered essay of arguments.

Her chapters were random and didn't lead on from one another, it seems like she just started writing without any sort of a plan. The pictures, too, were irrelevant most of the time or corresponded to a completely different part of the book.

The beginning of it was written quite objectively, like
...more
Sophie
I was expecting a breezy history of Barbie, but this book really includes some in-depth psychoanalytic theory and history. I appreciated the deeper look at Barbie's symbolism as a both a cultural object and an individual experience. It definitely feels uncomfortable to think of Barbie as something with connections to, for example, ancient fertility sculptures, but it was also helpful in placing her in a larger context of our views of the feminine vs. femininity vs. womanhood. This book made me w ...more
Brittaney Lock
I love,like reading this great fun book!This is a great book for other children to read!Omg I love,like this book!Omg I love,like reading this book!
Martha
An in-depth book chronicling the history of the most famous doll. In a day when you can google the facts quickly, this book took a long time to tell the Barbie story. The facts are intriguing enough, from her start as a german porn symbol to a multi billion dollar icon who has had multiple careers and fabulous clothes. The author delves into the deep meaning behind Barbie (did you know there was some?) to the detriment of an otherwise fascinating history. Sex symbol? Fertility Goddess? Work of A ...more
Rose
Forever Barbie started out like just my cup of tea- a sociological look and gender construction and culture through the evolution of a disputed plastic icon. Unfortunately, the book devolved into a disorganized collection of interviews with obscure performance artists and lots of assumptions on the part of the author that Barbie is so popular because with her pointed toes she resembles ancient fertility icons. The solid cultural criticism of the first few chapters became a hodgepodge of disparat ...more
Josephine Ensign
Who knew that Barbie was modeled after a German porn doll? Before reading this book I thought that was just a feminist urban myth. MG Lord does a good job of delving into the complexities of the Barbie doll effects on our collective psyches. I'm still proud of the fact that I beheaded all of my older sister's hand-me-down Barbies, but I now have greater appreciation for what it was exactly that I was beheading. This is a very engaging read and my favorite of Lord's books.
Kyle Wendy Skultety (gimmethatbook.com)
Pop culture and unintentional sexuality keep this book moving along. Or maybe it was intentional, the way the doll was first made with a submissive "down and to the side" glance on her face, then changed to Barbie looking straight ahead.

I never had any such thoughts while playing with my Barbies. I enjoyed them; wonder what that says about me?
Gabrielle


Fascinating book by cultural critic M.G. Lord (and first generation owner of a Barbie doll), tracing Barbie from 1959 to the present. Funny and provocative insights on what Barbie means and why she arouses such passions pro and con. Gave me a lot to think about, and it was most entertaining.
Bo Abeille
Nov 30, 2007 Bo Abeille rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Barbie buffs
Shelves: 2007, 2007-bios
This was a wonderful biography written by a woman who related her own Barbie memories to a sympathetic retelling of Barbie's history. I really enjoyed reading something that didn't take issue with Barbie since I love Barbie so much myself.
Suzy
Never was a big Barbie fan. Got about half-way through Lord's attempt to make this doll a feminist symbol and fails badly, in my opinion. Those angled feet that can only wear high heels are NOT the fertility goddess' progs.
Nicole G.
Tracks the history of Barbie, through her highs and lows, and kind of gets into the artistry and the mythical ways one could look at her. I don't care much for Barbie and what she stands for; however, she morbidly fascinates me.
Yvonne
Interesting look at how this icon has impacted many little girls over the last 30-40 years. There was a little to much phyco babble and not enough historical fact for my liking, so not the easiest of reads.
Josie
This reads like a PhD dissertation from someone specializing in feminist studies. It's not that the topic or the ideas are bad. Dissertations just aren't the kind of reading I enjoy. Had to drop this one
Jenny
Up to page 117 and lovin' it. A powerful analysis of a cultural icon. How Barbie came to be and how she evolves to meet the imaginative needs of those who love her through the ages.
Margaret
Really interesting to read. A bit of a stretch at times but disected how Barbie interacts with race, class and generations in some fascinating ways.
Lex
Very in-depth and well-researched book. I learned some disturbing things about what people do with Barbies that I'd rather forget (!)
Erica Chang
Definitely more interested in Barbie world after reading this book. I do hope the people that make Barbies are paid well though.
Jenny
Tried to read it. Maybe I wasn't in the mood, but despite the photos, the writing seemed dense and the book seemed way too long.
Jessica
Dec 07, 2007 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: would i? not sure
Shelves: chicklits
Reading this book in high school set in motion events that cumulated into my only arrest, to date.

Long story!
Jenn Theyellowdart
Boring. I am usually enthralled by the history of this doll, but unfortunately this author bored me to tears.
Bianca Hockensmith
My favorite quote from the book:

"Barbie is the ugliest piece of shit to come out of Amerikan factories."
SmarterLilac
A nice reminder to me about why I was never particularly 'in' to this particular pop cultural phenomenon.
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“By the time children play with Barbie, they have too many other factors in their environment to be able to link a specific behavior trait with a particular toy. But because Barbie has both shaped and responded to the marketplace, it's possible to study her as a reflection of American popular cultural values and notions about femininity. Her houses and friends and clothes provide a window onto the often contradictory demands that the culture has placed upon women.” 0 likes
“Swicord is not a New Age nut; she's a writer. And even after mega-wrangles with Mattel's management—the musical was sketched out but never produced—she is still a fan of the doll. "Barbie," she said, "is bigger than all those executives. She has lasted through many regimes. She's lasted through neglect. She's survived the feminist backlash. In countries where they don't even sell makeup or have anything like our dating rituals, they play with Barbie. Barbie embodies not a cultural view of femininity but the essence of woman." Over the course of two interviews with Swicord, her young daughters played with their Barbies. I watched one wrap her tiny fist around the doll's legs and move it forward by hopping. It looked as if she were plunging the doll into the earth—or, in any event, into the bedroom floor. And while I handle words like "empowering" with tongs, it's a good description of her daughters' Barbie play. The girls do not live in a matriarchal household. Their father, Swicord's husband, Nicholas Kazan, who wrote the screenplay for Reversal of Fortune, is very much a presence in their lives. Still, the girls play in a female-run universe, where women are queens and men are drones. The ratio of Barbies to Kens is about eight to one. Barbie works, drives, owns the house, and occasionally exploits Ken for sex. But even that is infrequent: In one scenario, Ken was so inconsequential that the girls made him a valet parking attendant. His entire role was to bring the cars around for the Barbies.” 0 likes
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