Trying to keep up with the world’s ever-changing standards of beauty is exhausting and can be quite devastating to a young women’s self-esteem. Social expectations are sustained by a false sense of reality and place an unfair burden on innocent girls at a young age. Even before a girl child is born, parents decide to dress her in all pink. Young girls are covertly programed at a young age to conform to society’s beliefs on gender roles and responsibilities. As referenced in the first stanza of this poem: “This girl child 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” (Piercy, 2012,p.
Instead they show praise towards her and her whiteness by buying white baby dolls, even for black girls. “The big, the special, the loving gift was always a big, blue-eyed Baby Doll….all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured.” Not only do the girls of this novel learn that whiteness is superior through the white baby dolls and the idealization of Shirley temple but adult women too have learned to despise their own color and learn as they grow that whiteness is the desired color. Whiteness is considered the cleaner color. When Pecola spills berries all over the clean white ladies house this
Some might say that the unrealistic shape of Barbie will hurt young girls’ perception, but as one of the designers of Barbie company say “girls’ perceptions are so different than grown ups’ perceptions about what real is and what real isn’t….. Girls view the world completely differently than grown-ups do” (Birdie, 2014). This statement explains the unrealistic shape of Barbie dolls as it shows that the Barbie dolls are created to fit in young girls’ world and not the opposite. The thought of Barbie dolls having a bad influence on kids is totally wrong. Barbie dolls are just a source of entertainment for kids and meanwhile it cherishes their dreams.
However from ages one to four children’s toys begin to send distinct messages about gender roles. Girl’s toys start to appear only in pink, purple, and yellow (mainly pastel) and if modeled after characters have only female names. At this stage boy’s toys are blue, red, or green (also pastel) and have male names. Girls learn to care for their baby dolls and boys begin to gain interest in cars and action figures. Society starts telling children what is expected of them.
After that, she can only view herself as a big nose and fat thighs. In a society which places such high expectations on appearance, women are quick to accept the careless comments of others as truth and take drastic actions in order to conform to society's unrealistic image of beauty. At an early age, a little girl’s mind is tainted with the idealistic images and expectations of what a woman should be. In the poem, the girl is “presented dolls that did pee-pee and miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.” Piercy paints an image of a little girl playing with dolls, a stove, and makeup. The girl’s parents have already instilled a visualization of what the perfect woman is like.
She was “presented dolls that did pee-pee,” expressing her youthfulness through the basic, childlike vocabulary. Piercy also uses words like “miniature” and “wee” when describing the girls possessions to further convey her the innocence of her nature; however, all of it is ruined when one of her classmates “in the magic of puberty” says, “You have a great big nose and fat legs.” The use of sarcasm helps emphasize the vulnerability that this girl must be faced with during the hormonal nightmare that is puberty. The character is advised to make changes to her lifestyle and body to be accepted by her peers. The girl is told to “exercise, diet, smile and wheedle” symbolizing the necessity for her to adapt to the “appropriate” societal norms. The reader learns that the girl can’t handle the stress and self loathing anymore.
It is bad that Barbie, a 6 foot tall, 100 pound, size 0, infertile doll is possibly believed to be realistic and perfect (Bennett, Saren). She is one of many reasons young girls eventually develop a low self-esteem and an inaccurate idea of body image. Due to Barbie, young girls have also developed eating disorders, and the lust for unnecessary, unrealistic material objects. Girls should not be pressured about the way they look, act, and dress (Bennett, Saren). By definition, Barbie is a trademark doll representing a slim, shapely young woman, especially one with blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin (Barbie).
However, once beauty pageants were introduced to the world, public opinion about them instantly split into two opponent sides (Nussbaum, 2000). On one side of the issue there are those, who purely support child beauty pageants and believe in their benefits. On the other side, those who consider them as harmful for the participants and even seek to ban them. Proponents of child beauty pageants state that these pageants not only make children beautiful outside, awarding with costly prizes, but also are crucial in future development of a child as a person. They believe that every child deserves to feel beautiful and beauty pageants are merely another way of making them feel comfortable and pretty in their skin.
For most parents and their little girls it is just good fun. They do not take the beauty pageants seriously. For a few parents the beauty pageants become an obsession. This is when beauty pageants for children can suddenly become very harmful. “Critics of the industry warn that the stresses of competition, coupled with an extreme focus on physical appearance, can have a negative effect long before these girls will be eligible for Miss America.” (Triggs, West and Aradillas 160-168) The loss of self-esteem, the inability to show a full range of emotions, the fear of failure, the extreme focus on physical image, and the discord with or fear of parents are a few of the symptoms those little girls will suffer from.
Youthful Beauty In the world of spray-tanned nine year olds known as 'Child Beauty Pageants', spending thousands in an effort to win a simple tiara is a common--almost mandatory--act. Although, the tiara is not all that is won in these pageants; a sense of pride and supremacy is also at stake. What is risked when these pageant parents put all their emphasis on the outer beauty of their impressionable daughters? At such a young age, a child's future mentality depends on the morals and priorities they are brought up to have. To prevent the potential superficial women that may come from these pageants, there should be an age limit present in child beauty pageants.