Barbie Doll Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy This girlchild was born as usual and presented dolls that did pee-pee and miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy. Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said: You have a great big nose and fat legs. She was healthy, tested intelligent, possessed strong arms and back, abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity. She went to and fro apologizing. Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs. She was advised to play coy, exhorted to come on hearty, exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out like a fan belt. So she cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up. In the casket displayed on satin she lay with the undertaker’s cosmetics painted on, a turned-up putty nose, dressed in a pink and white nightie. Doesn’t she look pretty? everyone said. Consummation at last. To every woman a happy ending. In the poem “Barbie Doll,” author Marge Piercy develops four short verses to provide a critical evaluation of the cultural and societal expectations that American society places on children, primarily young adults.
From the time she was born, she was presented dolls that did “pee-pee and miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy”, which exposed her unknowingly, to the standards and expectations of our society. From the baby doll that went “pee-pee” to the “miniature GE stoves and irons” unconsciously taught the young girl how to care for a baby, cook and iron clothes-all the stereotypical chores that society places on females. The “wee lipsticks” showed her how to apply makeup as the dolls, or Barbie’s, represented presumptions of the way that she should look.
All these expectations, unintentionally wrapped around her mind like a rubber band. The rubber band could not stretch anymore and once the rubber band finally tore when she hit puberty it sent a rush of attentiveness over her, when one of her classmates announced to her that “you have a great big nose and fat legs. ” To the girl, those nine simple words were not simply an act of immaturity from a young peer, but completely heart-breaking. From there on out, she realized that she did not fit in and grasped that her efforts to conform to society weren’t involuntary anymore.
Because she didn’t fit in “she went to and fro apologizing” for her “fat nose on thick legs” which was all anyone ever saw in her. No one ever saw that “she was healthy, tested intelligent, possessed strong arms and back, abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity, which are all amazing qualities in a young lady. Because of everyone’s blindness and ignorance, she was “advised to play coy, exhorted to come on hearty, exercise, diet, smile and wheedle. ”, in other words, to conform to society.
All the stresses started to take a toll and “Her good nature wore out like a fan belt”. As an alternative way of living, she “cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up”. This allowed societies superficial norms and values to win the fight. She either went under the knife of a plastic surgeon to fix her seem-to-be imperfections, or she may have literally got rid of her nose and legs. Overall, her low self-esteem killed her physically and emotionally allowing society to get what they wanted all along, “undertaker’s cosmetics” and “a turned-up putty nose.
Piercy did a fantastic presenting imagery by describing the steps taken to transform into a suitable teenager for today’s high standards for society. She describes the young female with all these amazing qualities to show that there was nothing really wrong with the girl. The unrealistic pressures that are placed on young girls during the duration of their lives come together as the theme of the poem. Piercy is symbolizing her death as in giving up or conforming to today’s society and by symbolizing the undertaker as a plastic surgeon.
Many females in today’s society feel as if their looks are not up to par with what “they should look like”, by comparing themselves to celebrities and media pressures to losing weight or applying make-up to themselves. She uses the perfect word choice when she wrote in the beginning of the poem, girl child because she allows the reader to understand that everyone is born “as usual” and innocent from society’s harsh realizations of what it would be perceived as perfect.
The mood of the poem is very heartbreaking because this poor young girl was perfect in an overall healthy and natural way, but outside stresses brainwashed her to believe otherwise that led her to kill herself instead of metaphorically dying by conforming to society. This poem is a harsh realization for all females put on us from dolls, media and peers all have a subliminal effect on all young women. Metonymy is used when Piercy uses Barbie doll as its title, by comparing Barbie dolls to the ideal woman.
There is great irony in the poem when Piercy wrote Consummation at last, to every woman a happy ending. By this Piercy was informing the reader that they will never be solely happy with themselves. Women would be criticized by their looks or imperfections until the day they die because they have no one to impress anymore. When you finally die, everyone puts aside flaws and focuses on the accomplishments instead of what is on the surface. Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy