The phrase, Beauty is only skin deep, does not appear to apply in this era of idealism and perfectionism. From the time babies are born through their adulthood, they are raised to conform to specific social roles. Specifically, little girls are expected to grow up becoming perfect feminine beauties created to bare children and care for their homes and husbands. Sandra Cisnero's “Barbie-Q” and Marge Piercy’s “Barbie Doll” portray the female body and gender roles through the standards imposed by the society that is one of the flawless physical beauty; just like the Barbie doll; the perfect figure, hair, nails, and face and ready to adhere to the expected roles of bearing children, taking care of husband and doing home chores. Throughout their work, in addition to criticize "the way in which women are socialized into stereotypical feminine behavior" (Overview: 'Barbie Doll'), both Cisnero and Piercy hold that escape is not possible from these ideals and that it is very destructive.
Piercy and Cisneros cleverly use the title of their respective works to bring attention to the underlying criticism. Talking about Barbie, what comes to mind is the girls all time favorite toy doll, manufactured by the American company Mattel Inc, that "is white, physically appealing, not poor, heterosexual, popular, fashionable, and forever young" (Romo 127). But it is not just a toy, it is also a symbol of ideal feminine beauty and associated role in the society. Using Barbie doll as the title of her story, Piercy brings the attention of her readers towards "this cultural icon of femininity that carries with it complex associations of ideal beauty and desirability" (Wart). Moreover, "the apt title given to the poem points to the central and controlling device of irony and the symbolic associations between the doll and the women in the poem" (Wart).
Similarly, Cisneros' demonstrates her anger towards the society's norm in the story's title itself : "Barbie-Q". "The iconic doll, who symbolizes the ideal for which all women should strive, is being stripped out of her high-class connotations by being paired up with a popular grilling technique" (Romo 132). Combining the Barbie doll with the char-grill, barbecue, Cisneros disapproves the high status and ideal beauty associated with it in a very vulgar way.
Cisneros is not only rebelling against the systematic method that the grammatical rules impose; but she is also mocking the status quo represented and maintained by Barbie, for she reduces the doll to something as common as barbecue and ridicules the tragedy suffered by the dolls who were the victims of fire (Romo 132).
Next, the idea of imposed femininity is established from the onset of the two works. In the poem "Barbie doll" with the setting, " [t]his girlchild was born as usual/ and presented dolls", "miniature GE stoves", "irons", and "wee lipsticks" (Piercy). Piercy introduces the protagonist of her poem as the "girlchild". "Distinguishing her only by gender...