Marge Piercy’s “ Barbie Doll” establishes the character to be a young girl who hits the stage of puberty and is then subjected to people's hurtful words that destroy her body image. Before these words she seemed to be a normal little girl playing with all the right toys. The words spoken were with intent to help the girl change her physical appearance so she could be a better version of herself, but in the end the girl felt there was no other option. She could never make everyone happy. The last part of the poem shows how society's judgmental words can strip you of your innocence and leave you in a satin lined box six feet under.
Your decisions to comply with society’s view of “beauty” are no longer subconscious, but rather are more conscious-driven decisions. Barbie’s slender figure remains idolized; however, it has evolved from a plastic doll to a self-starving model that is photo-shopped on the pages of glossy magazines. You spend hours in front of a mirror adjusting and perfecting your robotic look while demanding your parents to spend an endless amount of money on cosmetics and harmful skin products to acquire a temporary version of beauty. Consider companies such as Maybelline, which have throughout the ages created problematic and infantilizing campaigns and products for women. More specifically consider the “Baby Lips” product as well as the company slogan, “maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline,” that reiterates the male notions of beauty to which women are subjected.
In “Pretty Hurts” sang by Beyonce, the speaker was taught from a young age to care about appearances. Throughout the story the speaker struggles with herself, and she thinks she is not good enough. In the end she comes to realization, and shes says she is finally happy with herself. Between these two sources, the theme; ‘Everybody needs to learn that you are beautiful in your own way, and don’t need to live up to beauty standards’ is shown between the dynamic character of the speaker in “Pretty Hurts” and the motif/symbol of the two Barbies in “Barbie”. The themes of these sources are practically the same and revolve around the base idea of ‘beauty standards not defining us, and you are beautiful in your own way.
Even though they affect little girl’s view of physical beauty, idealize a female’s search for her other half and promote passive behavior. They do encourage these same girls to believe and hope in a better life. The positive energy emitted from its characters is what makes these Disney movies so successful, despite all of its imperfections. According to Professor Sara Coyne, who researched whether Disney princesses have an influence on little girls, one of the solutions is to only allow girls to watch Disney princess shows in moderation.4 This means that a young girl could watch an average of one Disney princess movie per week. She also mentions how parents should discuss the contents with their daughters to mediate the negative effects of Disney
The life of a women is difficult at all the stages of life, from birth to death, there is certain clothes they need to wear, they need to act a certain way, and do the chores that society feels are necessary for them to do. Society makes it clear that a woman is different from men and the tasks that they have are different. The author of “Barbie Doll,” Marge Piercy sheds a light of the difference on how people treat girls and women as they go from early childhood to adolescence. Piercy uses the connotation of different words, visual imagery, and the comparison between different elements in the girl’s life to ironize society’s social standards that lead to women’s suicides and deaths. The first element of figurative language Marge Piercy uses is the connotation of different words to ironize how women are treated, but in doing so, she sheds light on the wrongs that they face.
Barbie dolls are so pervasive in American culture that 90% of American girls have owned at least one. Young ladies and women are going to the extreme to have a similar appearance to Barbie. Women and young girls are extreme dieting, overworking their bodies, having eating disorders and some are even resulting in plastic surgery. Today there is even an actual term used for people that are so obsessed with having the perfect body, its called Barbie Syndrome. This term is loosely used to describe when young women want to have a physical appearance and lifestyle similar to Barbie.
So, reading this, “Barbie Doll” had definitely been related to her experience. Although Marge Piercy did not exactly die the way the girl did in the poem, but I suppose she was dying to be herself on the inside. In most of Piercy’s poems and other literary works, she expresses change. She dreams of social change, and feminist revival. Feminism plays a vital role in Piercy’s works.
The “Barbie Doll” poem is an effective poem. The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the words “Barbie Doll” is one of my favorite childhood toys. The main character of this poem is a young girl who was born in a judgmental world. She never had the opportunity to feel satisfied or happy with herself. She was trying to please others and make a way for herself to accept and feel confident within.
This poem has an influential and powerful message for its readers. The two words “Barbie Doll” is an essential part of a little girl’s vocabulary and most every little girl owns a Barbie doll. The doll represents an image of a perfect woman; however, in reality, women should not expect to be perfect. This is a narrative poem which summarizes the life of a young girl. The poem begins with “This girl child was born usual.” This line indicates that the child is born like any normal child.
The woman, who started out strong, is left on display for the world to see what they turned her into. The “cosmetics painted on” and her “putty nose” is what society has made her think was pure beauty. A face where the lips and eyes are cartoonish and the nose was vanishingly small, this is what the world tells women (Talbot). The makeup during the time that Marge Piercy wrote the poem was a bold, vivid eye (H&MUA). The cartoonish look is a step into the trends of the past, for the bright colors that were popular for women during the 1970s.