Barbie Doll Essay

1230 words - 5 pages

Guerline Donisvitch
“Introduction to Literature”
Ann Rasmussen
April 23, 2009
Barbie Doll
The poem begins in a fairy-tale vein, the archaic term “girl-child” being used to underscore the mythic quality of the story. The dolls, stove, iron and lipstick are all traditional play things for young girls, but they are also markers of an identity in the making, the things that young girls grow to identify with their own social roles. The doll presents an idealized image of the body, and stove and irons tell them what kind of work is expected of them as adults. The lipstick perhaps is the most sexualized cosmetic for women, signals to young girls that they will be valued for their ...view middle of the document...

This simile is interesting because it uses an image we associate with American culture. Her “good nature,” that part of her that sought to accommodate others, has been so exploited that she can no longer continue. She “offers up” (a gesture of sacrifice) her nose and legs, the symbols of her oppression, but to whom we do not know. The very person that the girl-child could never be is the person “appearing” in her casket, after a makeover by the undertaker. “A turned-up putty nose” and “a pink and white nightie” are features of Barbie-doll-like beauty and femininity appear. It is ironic that the very people (“everyone”) who could not appreciate the girl-child, for who she was in life, now admire the person she is made to be in death. In Piercy’s fable, it is society (not the girl) that achieves consummation, for it has made the girl-child into what it wanted. “Consummation” is a term used to describe completion or fulfillment. The last line of the poem echoes the happy ending of fairy-tales. In this case, of course, Piercy is saying that because of women’s subservient position in society, it is often difficult for their lives to have happy endings.

The poem, Barbie Doll, written by Marge Piercy tells the story of a young girl growing up through the adolescence stage characterized by appearances and barbarity. The author uses imagery and fluctuating tone to describe the struggles the girl is experiencing during her teenage years, and the affects that can happen. The title of this poem is a good description of how most societies expect others, especially girls to look. Constantly, people are mocked for their appearance and expected to represent as a Barbie-doll-like figure. Few are blessed with this description.
The female gender is positioned into the stereotype that women should be thin and beautiful. With this girl, the effects were detrimental. The first stanza describes the influence that a child is placed into during early childhood. Girls are expected to play with dolls and stoves and irons, the usual toys that relate to the old-fashioned duties of women. A young girl begins to learn what she should be for society and not to deviate from the norm. The tone used in this stanza is quite silent and simplistic at first, and then takes a turn towards a more bold statement. The author uses the magic of puberty to describe the age where appearance comes into effect. It’s ironic that this particular word...

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