Life's hard.

It's even harder when you're stupid.

John Wayne

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone ★★★☆☆

Barbie; just a doll or the gateway drug to superficialism?
Non Fiction – Culture
144 pages
Publication Date: 2010
Literary awards: Golden Kite Award (2011)

This book takes an interesting look at Barbie’s influence on our culture and our influence on her.  Using memories and anecdotes from generations of women, Tanya Lee Stone, explores Barbie’s iconic status and investigates the complicated relationship Barbie has with the world at large.

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on UsGrowing up I never wanted to be kid, but always an adult.  My Barbies lived glamorous lives filled with parties, dates – where Ken was always a second class citizen and basically only there to glorify Barbie and hold her purse when necessary - and paying bills, and of course every event required many outfit changes so she could look picture perfect.  From the time I tried to curl her hair with a light bulb to receiving Barbie’s silver Corvette and inheriting Barbie’s magnificent house she was a nice addition to my imaginary life.  So when I saw this book I just couldn’t ignore it.

To be honest I never really thought about Barbie as an unholy influence, with her ridiculous body or her focus on materialism.  The most passionate feeling I ever associated with her was when I took my life in my hands at the age of 3 and removed all of the rings and earrings from my Aunt’s collection – which apparently if memory serves was not the first time I violated her dolls – and she was pretty sure she needed to kill me.  And frankly for the most part I’m still basically there in my opinions as far as the doll is concerned. 

While, I liked the look into Barbie’s history and her evolution in this book, what I most enjoyed about this book was the ideas it sparked and the challenge it presented to my thoughts on women in society.  This book was very thought provoking for me, especially as a mother of two girls.  It spurred my need to clarify my own beliefs about feminism and created talking points for my husband and I on the subject.  The discussion on values we want to instill in our children is, as always, on-going, but pushing myself to put my own ideas into focus can only be helpful.

In the end I decided what matters is that my girls have the power to choose how they define themselves.  They decide what being a woman looks like to them.  They - and I – need to decide how to define ourselves and not allow the labels shoved on us to limit our potential.

For another perspective on raising girls a friend shared this article with me on Facebook and I thought I would pass it on:

ISBN  0670011878 (ISBN13: 9780670011872)

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