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Barbie Doll

In: English and Literature

Submitted By zinaghazzaoui
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“Her good nature wore out/ like a fan belt./ So she cut off her nose and her legs/ and offered them up.” This quote from “Barbie Doll”, by Marge Piercy, refers to a young girl who wishes to change her character and her appearance in order to live up to society’s expectations. In fact, instead of being complimented or admired for whom she truly is, people would rather criticize and condemn her for whom she isn’t. As a result of endlessly trying to alter her portrait, the “girlchild” eventually “wore herself out”. This poem suggests that unrealistic societal demands are destructive for a woman’s self-esteem and well-being.
When comparing oneself to an idealistic notion of female beauty and behaviour, one can only expect to feel demoralized, discouraged and devalued. Indeed, "Barbie Doll," the title of the poem, symbolizes society’s view of a perfect woman; the way society expects every woman to be. In fact, by using “Barbie Doll” as the title to her poem, Marge Piercy wants the reader to compare and contrast the adolescent’s appearance to that of a Barbie doll. Stereotypically, Mattel’s Barbie dolls have tall, thin yet curvy bodies, with symmetrical, perfect facial features, blonde hair and blue eyes. This, in turn, leads to the protagonist’s void of self-confidence. Additionally, living up to such standards - all the while being a housewife who must clean the house, raise the children and please her husband - is very demanding on the female gender. Moreover, the doll is symbolic of the ways that women themselves have been plasticized and turned into something they’re not. As a matter of fact, by trying to live up to these societal standards, women can’t rely on natural beauty. For instance, at the end of the poem, the young girl is wearing makeup, has “a putty nose” and is “dressed in a pink and white nightie”. This array of beauty enhancers adds to the young girl’s...

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