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Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image (Live Girls) Paperback – January 1, 2004


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Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image (Live Girls) + The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
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Product Details

  • Series: Live Girls
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; 2nd edition (January 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580051081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580051088
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The breezy, irreverent essays in Adios, Barbie are a welcome antidote to the narrow cultural consciousness the tiny doll has fostered for more than 40 years. While thousands of little girls worship Barbie's plasticine perfection, those who wind up dissatisfied with the message she sends--be white, be skinny, be stacked, be pretty, and then you'll be loved--can tell you how a toy skews body image in the real world. Among whites talking trash about blacks and upwardly mobile black folks, notes Erin J. Aubry, big butts are suspect--"low-class and ghettoish," the antithesis of Barbie's tightly tucked derriere. Yet on good days, Aubry applauds her ample proportions, for "unlike hair or skin, the butt is stubborn, immutable--it can't be hot-combed or straightened or bleached into submission. It does not assimilate; it never took a slave name."

In "Fishnets, Feather Boas, and Fat," Nomy Lam--a 250-pound, 22-year-old disabled woman--and friends elbow their way to the front of a determinedly different club, "dancing like fiends toward revolution." Lee Damsky tells us why her mother's model of scientific prowess took a dusty third-place to big-screen images of "beauty and femininity [that] seem to offer me absolute power rivaled only by a fascist dictatorship." Because the various writers gathered together here are young, their conceits and world-views are sometimes annoyingly unexamined; by the same token, though, their energy, heckling, and bone-deep assurance make large and pleasing dents in mainstream assumptions. --Francesca Coltrera --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Edut, founder and publisher of the magazine HUES (Hear Us Emerging Sisters), has assembled a collection of the freshest, hippest writers ever to slam Mattel's Barbie doll and speak up for the beauty of the un-blonde, the un-tall and the un-anorexic. Addressing everything you always wanted to know about body image, from leg hair to transsexuals and African American women's posteriors, the more than 25 contributors present a spectrum of attitudes toward the female body. Although a few of the essays are weak when compared to the book's best pieces, the volume as a whole is a step forward in the discussion of how feminine attractiveness is viewed in American society, concluding that women must seek their own definition of beauty in order to gain a sense of self-acceptance. Essays such as Susan Jane Gilman's "Klaus Barbie, and Other Dolls I'd Like to See" and Graciela Rodriguez's "Breaking the Model" provide insight into the challenges of young women who grew up feeling as if they had to compete with the pert and impossibly perfect Barbie. Other pieces, such as "My Jewish Nose" by Lisa Jervis and "My Brown Face" by Mira Jacob, illuminate the obstacles in trying to emulate a Caucasian appearance. Every writer in this splendid collection raises a different issue, yet the essays address the same theme and, cumulatively, make for compelling and important reading.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

It is a brilliant work on breaking out of societies expectations of what it is to be female.
Violette Rose-Jones
I suggest purchasing this book now, as the title and cover will soon be changed due to a lawsuit from the Mattel Company.
leftcoasttransplant
Just because I didn't connect with a particular story doesn't mean that another reader won't.
Flannery

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Brown on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read a lot of "woman-centric" books, and, while this is certainly a worthy project as well as a generally interesting book, it doesn't quite measure up to essay collections such as The Bitch in the House or Old Wives' Tales. (I would like to be able to give it three and a half stars, but rounded it up to four.) The authors of these essays are extremely diverse racially, ethnically and in their backgrounds and lifestyles. For this reason alone, it is an important read, because it provides valuable cultural insight into the "beauty myths" surrounding demographics other than middle-class white women.

One of the essays I enjoyed most was "The Butt: Its Politics, Its Profanity, Its Power" by Erin J. Aubry, a funny and articulate examination of the important and often culturally-loaded role of the butt in African-American (and "white" American) culture. There are, however, a wealth of other essays, that, as another reviewer pointed out, seem to repeat themselves--women hating their bodies from childhood and the ensuing struggles. The variation of this theme becomes less powerful after reading it over and over again. This concept is one that is almost "played out", to a certain extent, in that it has already been discussed and dealt with, even in mainstream media. While undoubtedly a real problem with negative consequences, if you are familiar with these themes, it doesn't make for groundbreaking reading.

Additionally, while there are a few essays (such as the very interesting "Strip" by Diana Courvant) that allow for necessary complexity and, to a certain extent, uncertainty regarding the issue of body image, there are a few that I found a bit too judgmental in the opposite direction.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of articulate, very personal, first-person accounts of some (diverse!) young women and their bodies: their hair, their skin, their muscle, their fat, their immune systems...you get the idea. My favorites include a black woman on the suspicions her "healthy" diet raises, a nice mile-long trek in the shoes of a woman with severe allergies, and the "Klaus Barbie" essay, which may be worth the price of the whole thing. I thought all the contributions were enlightening, though some are funny, some angry, some sober, and some pretty devasting. Cheers to the girls, though: they always come out on top. Obviously not the sociological, serious stuff here, but we need the straight-up story-telling as well. You'll find something in here you relate to--and probably where you don't expect it.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Seal Press on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Ophira Edut is one of those renaissance kinda gals who causes you to wonder what you've been doing with all your spare time. The founding publisher of HUES (Hear Us Emerging Sisters) magazine, a web designer, illustrator, writer and lecturer, she has been creating public space for women and girls to raise their voices and be heard for years. All this, and she's still in her 20s. With Body Outlaws, Edut has brought together 26 different women's voices to collectively challenge unrealistic mainstream mythologies of beauty and body image. Body Outlaws is a republication of Edut's first book Adios Barbie, with the addition of two new chapters and a slightly revised introduction...
I don't think that I would be amiss in surmising that as women/girls, we each have body image issues. Obsessions that evolve out of our own human body's failure to measure up to unrealistic lifestyles and standards of beauty that surround us. The articles in Body Outlaws deal with all these insecurities and misgivings with a refreshingly honest approach. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the articles that Edut has collected, is the spectrum of body issues that they address. Not focusing on the traditional obsession with weight alone, Edut's contributors speak on skin, noses, hair, lips, butts and the like.
...The writers in Body Outlaws are unabashedly frank, willing to reveal their own complicated "-isms" in their privileging of qualities of "the other" over their own. The book is worth the investment for Nomy Lamm's piece alone. Her honest and witty style always charm the pants off me. Here she addresses the issue of actively engaging in beauty and enjoying and celebrating your own sense of style and artifice rather than pretending that looks don't matter.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have never been really into Women's Studies, but I recently saw this book and was intrigued. Like almost every woman on earth, I struggle with my feelings about my body. It's just so great to know that I'm not alone. It's inspiring to read about women who've made peace or made progress with their body images. This book definitely made me more aware of images of beauty that society considers normal. I realized that I've spent my whole life swallowing what the media tells me to and letting that form my self image. The contributors to this book are very diverse but are united as well.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By leftcoasttransplant on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wow... I could not put this down. This book is a must for anyone interested in women's issues! It speaks about the pervasive image of "barbies" in our culture, and the challenges that unique women must face. There is something in this book that every woman can relate to! "Adios, Barbie!" is a lovely celebration of inner beauty and a healthy attitude!
I suggest purchasing this book now, as the title and cover will soon be changed due to a lawsuit from the Mattel Company. (Did you know that Mattel has actually patented a shade of pink as "Barbie pink" ? )
Enjoy!
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