Washington Post
Review of Body Outlaws

Girls (boys too) can be plenty awkward with themselves, especially as they're learning to live in their own skins. How do you grow comfortable with yourself when what you are doesn't conform to the images the culture hurls at you? That question lives at the heart of the essays in Adios, Barbie: Young Women Write About Body Image and Identity (Seal Press, $ 14.95). Ophira Edut, the collection's editor, throws down the gauntlet early on: "You're busted, Babs. You've been found guilty of inspiring fourth-grade girls to diet, of modeling an impossible beauty standard, of clinging to homogeneity in a diverse new world. Welcome to the dollhouse, honey. Your time is up." So throw out "torpedo-titted" Barbie, writes Susan Jane Gilman, and replace her with something new. How about Dinner Roll Barbie, "a Barbie with multiple love handles"? Or Body Piercings Barbie? "Enables girls to rebel, express alienation and gross out elders without actually having to puncture themselves." Barbed jokes indeed.

But this is serious stuff. The fat and thin weigh in, the anorexics sit down with the hearty eaters: These are women of all stripes, speaking their minds -- and their bodies. Two-hundred-pound Leoneda Inge-Barry describes what she sees in the mirror, what it's like to grow up big: "I can't wait until the day comes when I can walk down the street and not think I'm being judged by the color of my skin or the size of my dress." Lisa Jervis writes about "My Jewish Nose" and how the very thing her mother's generation rubbed out with rhinoplasty has become for her a source of cultural identity. Mexican American Marisa Navarro was brought up to be "a good hijita" -- "more than simply being an obedient daughter. It also meant being desexualized." Now, she writes, "I'm ready for anything that happens, whether it's cellulite or muscle definition."