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

by Tanya Lee Stone

Published by Viking, 2010
130 pages
ISBN: 978-0-670-01187-2

Age 11 and older

Podcast featuring this book

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 of Barbie’s birth in 1959 through her various incarnations and evolutions of 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 who could serve as an alternative to the more ephemeral paper dolls of the time. Barbie’s physical changes over the years – body proportions, facial expression – and her racial and cultural characteristics are outlined, as well as her vast and much-debated wardrobe, from couture to trendy to career. As the doll gained popularity, she also gained friends and relatives. Naked Barbies, Barbie mutilation, and store-bought clothing versus homemade are covered, all brought to life with numerous personal anecdotes. Detailed source notes, bibliography, and an index conclude this fascinating examination of “an American icon.” (MVL) ©2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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