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Barbie Doll Fantasy Exposed In Marge Piercy’s Barbie Doll

1634 words - 7 pages

Is Barbie the model woman? For generations girls have played with this doll and many have aspired to be just like her: the party girl, career women and the beauty queen all wrapped into one. In Marge Piercy’s poem entitled “Barbie Doll” the title foreshadows the theme of the poem which is that girls are ultimately and fatally entrapped by society’s narrow definitions of feminine behavior and beauty. When Piercy compares the young lady in the poem to a Barbie doll she is revealing the irony of the title. In “Barbie Doll” the speaker is aware of the events taking place in the young girls’ life; however, the speaker does not know how the young girl feels about the events that are taking place. I believe Piercy did this so that the reader could feel for themselves how the young girl was feeling. The poem is told much like a fairy tale; it is told in a very matter of fact way. It is obvious that Piercy uses Barbie to symbolize what society thinks that woman should aspire to be if they are going to be “the perfect woman”. Barbie, with her unrealistic body type: busty, thin waist, thin thighs, long legs, blonde and blue eyed, is reflective of our cultures idea of being feminine. Yet most women will never achieve, no matter how hard they try, to become a living Barbie. By using similes, symbols and a fairytale like tone Piercy creates a masterpiece starring a suicidal girl rather than Barbie, the “perfect women”, the young girl is compared to throughout the poem.
The speaker sets the tone for the entire poem by starting the first stanza with a happy beginning, in fairy-tale like fashion. Just as Barbie’s life is filled with exciting material things, as depicted in the books and movies starring Barbie, the young girls life was filled with exciting things to play with such as “dolls that did pee-pee/and miniature GE stoves and irons/and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy” (2-4). These toys are not only items that a young girl might like to have but they are toys that are considered feminine in nature. The toys symbolize the gender roles that girls are taught even at a young age. Much like Barbie, girls are expected to act a certain way and to enjoy certain activities just because they are considered feminine. The doll, miniature stove and miniature iron are all items that represent being a mother and a housewife. The girl is being told at a young age, a “perfect woman” knows how to raise children and take care of a house, even Barbie comes with a baby, a line of pink pots and pans to scrub and an iron for her to iron Ken’s clothes with. This girl, at a young age, was being told the social norms that she would be expected to follow as she got older. The cherry flavored red lipstick the young girl is given to play with seems innocent at first glance; however, red lipstick is viewed as a sensual shade for any woman to have in her makeup collection. The young girl applying a sensual shade of lipstick at a young age shows how...

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