Poetry Speed Dating: Barbie Doll, By Marge Piercy

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Poetry Speed Dating: “Barbie Doll” Oftentimes art serves to question societal norms and expectations, causing the viewer to rethink existing and outdated traditions. Marge Piercy’s “Barbie Doll” utilizes a third person narrative to describe a young girl’s struggle with her weight and physical appearance. The poem begins in the girl’s childhood, then briefly illustrates her inner conflict and the realm of outside forces adding to her stress and anguish regarding her appearance, which ultimately lead her to commit suicide. As she seeks physical perfection, her acquaintances encourage her relentless endeavor for beauty, even going so far as to praise her dead yet manicured body in the casket. Through a bitter and resentful tone Piercy emphasizes her feminist message, arguing that the societal pressures placed on young girls corrupt their innocence, ultimately leading to a life spent striving for unachievable perfection and an inevitable demise. In the first stanza, the speaker develops a cheerful tone through an internal rhyme scheme which she later juxtaposes as she denounces this corruption of innocence. The rhyme centered around a long “e” sound creates a sense of childish innocence, which corresponds to the description of a girl’s birth and adolescent years spent playing with toys. The girl is free from the criticism of the outside world and lives a sheltered and protected life. However, even the toys reaffirm societal expectations, as she plays with, “miniature GE

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