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

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie by Tanya Lee Stone
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's review
Apr 20, 2012

really liked it
Read from April 17 to 19, 2012

I guess you could say I was a Barbie kid. I had maybe ten Barbies and multiple outfits for each. I had Skipper and Stacie and maybe even Kelly and Krissy (I don't remember). I had a Barbie pool, little hangers for my Barbie clothes, and lots of shoes. While I enjoyed playing with my Barbies, I never really gave Barbie much thought. But by the time I was a teenager, I was well aware that there are many Barbie lovers and Barbie haters out there. Barbie causes a lot of controversy across America, it seems, which is what intrigued me to read this book.

Stone tries to cover all things Barbie in an objective way, and this book is written for the young adult audience. I thought it did both of those things quite well, while also providing an overview for adults. I'm sure there are books out there going into crazy detail about Barbie, but I was happy with the 124 page overview. Topics and sections include:

History of Mattel
Ruth Handler, creator of Barbie
History of Barbie
Barbie as sexist/unrealistic/harmful
Barbie as a fashion icon
Barbie as a career woman
Multicultural Barbies
Mutilating/destroying Barbies
Sexual play with Barbies
Barbie in art

What I realized from my reading was that what kids think of Barbie does not seem to be the problem -- it's what adults think. Moreover, it's what adults perceive about children's behaviors and beliefs. A good portion of the book includes personal stories and memories that real people sent in to the author about their time with Barbies. It was interesting to see how other girls and boys felt about the doll as kids and adults in these reflections.

FINAL GRADEL: B This is a fascinating little book, and I'm glad it's in my library. It's informative and interesting, with lots of great photographs and quotes through the pages. The sexual discussions are all very tame, mostly mentioning how Barbies have no genitalia and how kids wanted Barbie and Ken to sleeping the bed together. Real Barbie enthusiasts will probably want to skip it, as I'm sure there is nothing new for them to learn. But for everyone else, I'd highly recommend it.

The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh

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Reading Progress

04/17/2012 page 72
04/19/2012 page 144
100.0% "Surprisingly good...some interesting chapters!"

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