Barbie is a strong, independent doll. But is she a feminist icon? It’s complicated.
In Forever Barbie, cultural critic, investigative journalist, and first-generation Barbie owner M. G. Lord uncovers the surprising story behind Barbie’s smash success. Revealing her low origins as “Bild Lilli,” a risqué doll for adults sold as a gag gift in postwar Germany, Forever Barbie traces Barbie’s development and transformation, through countless makeovers and career changes, into an international pop culture icon and now “traditional toy.” Though not every doll in the line has been a hit—with pregnant Midge and Growing up Skipper among the more intriguing disasters—Barbie’s endurance, Lord writes, speaks as much to Mattel’s successful marketing as it does to our society’s overall ambivalence toward femininity.
With new accessories, including a preface on the latest developments in the Barbieverse, Forever Barbie “will make you think of America’s most celebrated plastic doll in ways you never have before” (Susan Faludi).