The Book of Jezebel: B Is For Barbie

Welcome! As you may have heard, on October 22nd we'll be publishing our first book, a 300-page, hardcover, illustrated encyclopedia called The Book of Jezebel. In honor of this milestone —which took many years and dozens of contributors to execute—we'll be posting one entry from the book a day, starting with "A" and continuing on through to "Z." Although the book itself has already been printed — it's gorgeous — questions, additions, annotations and suggestions on the entries that appear online are welcomed and encouraged.

Barbie

Doll whose breasts are so big she'd fall over if she were real. (Her feet are also permanently flexed into a high-heeled position.) Barbie has been a doctor, an astronaut, an executive, and an engineer, but a talking version of her once complained that "Math class is tough!" Barbara Millicent Roberts was conceived in the mid-1950s by Mattel cofounder Ruth Handler to give little girls an alternative to baby dolls. (Giving them devastating body image issues and seriously mixed messages about women's roles in society was apparently an unexpected bonus.) More than fifty years and a zillion feminist critiques later, the Barbie doll remains a strong seller, a hot collectors' item, and a convenient shorthand for the white, thin, and utterly impossible American ideal of beauty.

(Illustration by Domitille Collardey for The Book of Jezebel.)

Learn more about the writers and artists who contributed to the book on the official Book of Jezebel site.

Pre-order the book here and see a tour schedule here.

Check out the book's Facebook page, Twitter feed and Tumblr.