Adios, Barbie: Young Women Write about Body Image and Identity

Adios, Barbie: Young Women Write about Body Image and Identity
edited by Ophira Edut, with a foreword by Rebecca Walker
Seal Press, distributed by Publishers Group West, $14.95

Being 20 years old and living in a college dorm I have discovered the painfully obvious: Women are insecure about their bodies. Whenever my neighbor borrows clothes she reminds my friends and me how “fat and ugly” she is, and informs us that she hasn’t spent enough time working out that week. It is a difficult ritual to witness knowing that she probably says worse things to herself when she is alone. Adios, Barbie is a fabulous and much-needed anthology that bravely speaks about personal struggles with body image and identity. Fat, hair, sexuality, noses, butts, skin color, and many other taboos are openly confronted in this book. The essayists are strong women dealing with the same issues my friends and I do every time we look in the mirror.

The editor, 25-year-old Ophira Edut, founded HUES (Hear Us Emerging Sisters) magazine for women in their 20s. The foreword by Rebecca Walker, daughter of author Alice Walker, steers the book’s purpose when she asks, “Where, in this ongoing discussion of body image, is the story of the lover who celebrated the hips we found too narrow or too wide, and caused us to see ourselves anew; the story of the Jewish nose that connects us to an ancestral past; the testimony about that ‘extra’ thirty pounds that make us feel solid and abundant rather than slovenly or unattractive?” Lisa Jervis, the editor and publisher of Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture, contributes a wonderful essay about ‘keeping’ her Jewish nose. Each essay is full of energy and spirit that battles our culture’s current beauty standards.

Leslie Heywood’s article about female athletes claims, “We don’t have to reject our bodies, because today girl doesn’t mean weak little wuss, woman doesn’t mean doormat, giving up all your time and dreams for other people. We can have muscles now, and ostensibly what those muscles stand for: power, self-determination, presence, a place in the world.” Reading this reaffirms that women of all shapes, sizes and colors are beautiful. 

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