Eating Disorder Barbie - A True Story

How's this for a story with an ironic twist...the children of Barbie grow up with eating disorders. Great plot for a feminist novel you think?

Let me introduce you to Stacey. Her grandparents own one of the biggest toy companies in the world...and grandma invented the fantastic plastic Barbie doll.

Here's where our story gets interesting because it's based on real people who don't travel in plastic campers or have tiny pool parties.

Stacey Handler is the granddaughter of Ruth and Elliot Handler - founders of Mattel, Barbie, Ken and Stacie doll!

Stacey is also author of the book The Body Burden - Living In The Shadow Of Barbie, and the sad irony is she grew up hating her body.

It's safe to say Stacey was raised in a wealthy environment, but she's struggled with diabetes and has risked her health by starving her body into looking like her grandmother's creation.

In her introduction, Stacey says that money has bought her many things, including a home gym. But she realizes while "curling her bicep at two in the morning" that money cannot buy her a self-image she can live with.

The Body Burden is a mixture of poetry peppered with chapters out of Stacey's life. She does express dismay with her grandmother's attitude throughout her story, but not in an overtly spiteful way.

One of Stacey's poems titled 'Lose Some Weight And I'll Buy You The Store' is clearly frustration at Ruth's obsession with her granddaughter's weight.

The last verse really hits home: 'You always told me I could lose more weight and, now that I've been as thin as I could be, I've had to face my own reality: that thin may just not be me.'

So how did Ruth feel about the book? Stacey told BodytalkMagazine: "We have a close relationship now and my book had a lot to do with that."

There's lots of photos in the book and I must admit there's something fascinating about getting a glimpse into the life of a woman who's been blamed for millions of girls starving themselves.

But if art does indeed imitate life then perhaps Ruth Handler was only reflecting what she saw around her as the 'right' look for girls.

"Barbie and diets are only the doorways to a much bigger problem. The real issues are inside. Being overweight is not nearly as dangerous as what we put our bodies through to get thin," says Stacey.

Her story will give comfort to the millions of women suffering disordered eating and a loathing of their bodies.

Stacey points out that we hide behind food and negative body image as our way of protecting ourselves from being hurt. "It keeps us just far away enough emotionally."

Through The Body Burden, Stacey hopes that women can communicate with their family about inner feelings regarding criticism and weight issues. It has certainly helped her on her journey into self acceptance.


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