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Forever Barbie: The Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll Paperback – Mar 2004

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Traces the history of the Barbie doll from her origins in postwar Germany to the present, noting her parallel development with women's movements. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I love it! Too bad it�s out of print 24 Dec. 2001
By Linda Talisman - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is not a "pro-Barbie" book, or an "anti-Barbie" book. It is an exploration of all aspects of Barbie the author finds significant. Topics include:
The history of Barbie's creation, her marketing and engineering by Mattel.
The differences between male and female executives in handling of the Barbie line.
Ruth Handler, Barbie's creator, and other prominent women in Barbie's life such as Charlotte Johnson, who designed her clothes in the early years, Judy Shackelford, Mattel's first female vice president, and Jill Barad, the marketing director & later Mattel COO, who pioneered the "We Girls Can Do Anything" advertising campaign in 1984.
A history of Barbie and ethnic identity (unfortunately someone had clipped pages out of this chapter in the library copy I read, so I can't say too much about it.)
Explorations of symbolic, sexual, & psychological meanings of the doll.
I found this book fascinating. A very enjoyable read. While it explores both the positive and negative views women have had of Barbie, I especially enjoyed the positive, including Barbie's history as a single independent career woman, the powerful career women involved in her creation, manufacture, & marketing over the years, and the somewhat fanciful but enjoyable discussion of her as a mythical archetype of the feminine.
I like when this book ventures into realms of the bizarre, like the exploration of Barbie's image in the context of fetishism and pornography. I suppose some people might be disturbed or offended by this, however.
I was frustrated by the lack of a list of illustrations, since photographs appear throughout the text, & are often mentioned later in the book. It's hard to go back and find the picture she's talking about.
I was confused by the author `s seeming lack of awareness that people might read the book 6 or more years after its publication. For instance, she refers to women of the Barbie generation as "women under 40." I had to think to realize this included me, since I'm not under 40 now, but I was when the book was published in 1994. The confusion will increase as years go by.
This is too bad, since the book is a unique treatment of Barbie in cultural context, and should be read well into the future by students of popular culture as well as individuals who like to ponder such things. Unfortunately, it's out of print. This makes it unlikely that a 2nd edition will ever appear, which is also too bad, since I would love to know what the author has to say about innovations subsequent to its publication, such as Barbie's new more lifelike proportions, and the introduction of her belly-button.
Some people might find this book too intellectual, or possibly over their heads. Probably many people who like to ponder the meanings of popular culture are anti-Barbie, and might be turned off by the book's positive spin on the doll. Barbie enthusiasts might be put off by the negative spin, as well as the stranger explorations. I love the book, but I have to admit it's not for everybody. Maybe that's why it's out of print. But if you are open to both sides of the Barbie controversy, and like to wax philosophical and think about things, this book is definitely for you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Some are writers, and some are *good* writers 20 Feb. 2009
By Billie Rae Bates - Published on
Format: Paperback
Though I read the book because I was interested in the subject matter and was doing research for a writing project of my own, what really struck me here was the talent of the writer. M.G. Lord is a rare combination for a writer. She has both the mechanics and the heart down-pat: She can construct a sentence or turn a phrase like nobody's business, AND she digs into and presents the most relevant content with good judgment. The broad array of cultural references at the tip of her consciousness alone is quite impressive. I enjoyed the book, and even laughed often at the edgy humor.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Impressively skewed. 29 Sept. 2005
By Bart King - Published on
Format: Paperback
On the one hand, this is an impressively researched book written with humor and intelligence. I'd love to see a new edition tracking some of the more recent developments in Barbie's empire. But some of Ms. Lord's arguments drift unpersuasively far into psycho-sexual realms. When she used an obscure 43 minute 1987 documentary as her three-page focus for the conflicting causes of eating disorders, she completely lost me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
****AGELESS DOLLS**** 7 July 2009
By Connemara - Published on
Barbie owners must add this book to round out any collections. It's the story of the dolls creation, that she was actually modeled after a German doll which was sold as a gag gift for men. I'll let the reader continue that story themselves.

The history of our beloved doll actually mirrors societies changes, for better or worse, in fact she represents a social history of every notable era since her creation. Barbie Forever was a fascinating read, it hooked me from the start.

I still have my original bubble haired Barbie, I'm not a collector yet I still log on at times to her number one web sit just to view new dolls. So it stands to say I wanted to read the book, finished it in three days.

Great book!!!!!
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Great book! 20 May 2004
By Bjorn Johannessen - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book isn't the next _war and peace_ nor was meant to be. Just like that dude J. Alfred Prufrock, it's good for swelling a crowd, and giving you something less-embarassing than watch television to do when you want to just relax. Analyzing pop culture, learning obscure facts about something I am vaguely ashamed of myself for being interested in in the first place . . . mmmmmmmm, pass the oreo ice cream, please. The author definitely shares my sheepish fascination with Barbie. His/her(?) text explores many aspects of our relationship with Barbie - as children, parents, adult women, queers, artists, etc., as well as a lot of very interesting background info on how she was created, the company who has promoted her over the years, and the toy industry in general. Holding my interest *without* getting so serious that I wished the book had come with a discussion section that met once a week, _Forever Barbie_ was like a long, interesting cultural-analysis chat with an amusing girlfriend. I would read it again in a few years or recommend it to friends . . .
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