by Maria Teresa Hart
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Pub Date 03 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 03 Dec 2022
A fascinating examination of dolls and their wide cultural influence.
Like any good, chilling allegory, the trope of the haunted doll is disturbing because of the truth at its heart. Though dolls are viewed as toys, more often they are avatars of the idealized feminine self, representing girlhood as a mythical state of young femininity. Many dolls bolster dominant heteronormative, patriarchal, ableist white norms and reinforce stereotypes around gender, class, size, race, and celebrity in insidious ways.
This book brings the stories of dolls to life, from Japanese Hinamatsuri festivals in the seventeenth century to Barbie’s controversial origins and the white-focused narratives of the American Girl doll. Today, a new frontier of online avatar dolls brings the same oppressive beauty standards into a digital space. Maria Teresa Hart explores the objects as more than playthings, but as vehicles through which messages about class, race, beauty, history, fame, and selfhood are transferred and internalized.
This book is the latest in the Object Lessons series. Published in association with The Atlantic, it explores the hidden lives of ordinary things and what they can teach us about ourselves and the modern world.
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