Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll
Far from a toy designed by men to enslave women, Barbie was a toy invented by women for women to teach them what - for better or worse - was expected of them. Controversial cultural critic and investigative journalist M. G. Lord, herself a first-generation Barbie owner, positions the doll as an international marketing phenomenon, an early model of female independence, and a space-age recasting of a Neolithic fertility icon that empowers little girls through its links to a matriarchal, pre-Christian tradition. Lord has sleuthed out Barbie's sordid origins - she was modeled on a sleazy German doll originally sold as a gag gift for men - and debriefed her creators. But Forever Barbie is more than just a corporate history. It is a story of mothers and daughters, men and women, and the way objects are used to teach sex-appropriate behaviors. It is about how we as Americans have defined ourselves, emulating an impossibly homogeneous "America" coded by immigrants and outsiders through movies and dolls. It is about ownership: Unlike Garbo, Marilyn, and Elvis, Barbie is an icon intended to be touched and possessed. And it is about passion: From the collectors who cherish her to the artists who mutilate her, nobody feels neutral.