In the first stanza, the "girlchild"(1) is born. The shackles of classic femininity are given to her even in her early youth. The "miniature GE stoves"(2), "irons"(2) and "dolls that did pee-pee"(3) are all items of her oppression into the classic submissive role of a demure housewife. "Wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy"(4) spark the idea that to be a woman you must be pretty and done up. At the end of the stanza the tone changes during perhaps the most fragile part of a young girl's life, during the "magic of puberty" (5), a classmate tells her she has "a great big nose and fat legs" (6).
All over the world, girls often go through a "princess phase", made up with anything pink and pretty. When it happened to Peggy Orenstein's daughter, the writer decided to examine the phenomenon. She found that the “girlie-girl” culture was less innocent than it might seem, and can have negative consequences for girls' psychological, social and physical development. From a very young age, girls learn to define themselves from the outside in, and a lot of researches suggest that our culture’s emphasis on physical beauty is the root of problems such as negative body image, depression, eating disorders and high-risk sexual behavior. I strongly agree with the Peggy Orenstein’s article.
The theme of the story is to show how Barbie dolls are negatively influencing young girls and the drastic change they had on young girl’s observations of relationships, self-image, and childhood innocence. At a young age, these girls are creating stories of infidelity and aggression that mimic how relationships are viewed through the media. “Every time the same story. Your Barbie is roommates with my Barbie, and my Barbie’s boyfriend comes over and you steal him okay?” (Cisneros, pg 576) This is giving girls a distorted insight of what occurs in normal relationships. These stories, the young girls create using theses dolls, make it seem okay if these types of unhealthy relationships occur.
In addition, she witnesses her daughters grow up with Barbie influence. Smiley believes that Barbie dolls can be role models for young girls, and she also thinks girls like Barbie because with the doll they can discover new things, girls define their femininity, and it is their liking during childhood. Jane Smiley states that young girls like Barbie dolls because they can try on a no-holds-bared (376). Smiley’s daughters are in the childhood stage when they are often curious to try something. Smiley says, “Both of them learned how to put makeup before kindergarten” (376).
Piercy analyzes the girl from birth and uses a detached, expecting tone to portray her normality. In lines two through five Piercy creates a bitter tone when talking about the toys her parents presented her as a child. Piercy's tone can also seem as if she is disgusted because she talks about the “dolls that did pee pee” and uses a sarcastic alliteration when she said “lipsticks the color of cherry candy” (2-4). At this point it is clear the child is a toddler or in adolescence since she plays with these toys that little girls are expected to pay with at that age. The first stanza abruptly ends with “You have a great big nose and fat legs.” (6).
How popular she is and perfect she is, and so naturally these girls are beginning to want to be just like Barbie, happy and perfect all of the time. There is always so much to look, act and dress. And young girls worldwide feel the need to fit in and the only way to do that is to look and act a certain way. Barbie has always been there to set the trends. Feminist say that Barbie is the cause of worldwide eating disorders, low self-esteem and false perception of beauty.
The Dastardly, Unobtainable Quality: Perfection With the abundance of super models, Barbie dolls, and other symbols of perfection in the world today, it is no surprise that women and young girls have insecurities, as well as self-image issues. Girls grow up playing with Barbie dolls and creating fantasy worlds for them, pretending to be them and un-knowingly psychologically convincing themselves that they need to be like that Barbie doll to have the fantasy life and a Prince Charming. The challenges of the idealization of perfection do not get better as a young girl progresses in life. In fact, it gets worse. Between the perfect Barbie dolls, the perfect girls on social media, the perfectly airbrushed celebrities in popular magazines, and the less than perfect friends who point out all of one’s flaws, how can these girls not feel less than perfect and, therefore, strive for an unfortunate, unobtainable, dastardly goal called perfection?
Orenstein has gotten accustomed to adults assuming her daughter likes pink and princesses. For example, at Longs Drugs, the woman gives Orenstein’s daughter a pink balloon rather than letting her choose the color she wants, and Orenstein lets it slide. At the dentist, Orenstein is so fed up, when the dentist asks her daughter to “sit in the princess throne” so she can “sparkle her teeth,” she finally snaps (326). Her daughter, surprised by Orenstein’s reaction, wonders what is wrong with princesses. Orenstein then sets out to explore the possible answers to her daughter’s question.
“Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said: you have a great big nose and fat legs” (5-6) altering anything and everything this little girl ever knew to be true about herself. One comment ruined her entire view of herself and other girls, that she had to be like them since they did not like who she was born being. The “Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf states things like, “The more legal and material hindrances women have broken through, the more strictly and heavily and cruelly images of female beauty have come to weigh upon us... During the past decade, women breached the power structure; meanwhile, eating disorders rose exponentially and cosmetic surgery became the fastest-growing specialty...” all of this saying that the stress put on
In her essay, Barbie’s Body May be Perfect but Critics Remind Us It’s Plastic, Angela Cain analyzes how Barbie and other media icons affects women’s self image in our society. Barbie, one of the most popular fashion icons, has been shaping the way girls view their bodies since 1959. Barbie, and her unrealistic proportions, has been the idealistic body type. Women have struggled at great lengths to achieve the generally unattainable, to look like Barbie. Studies have shown that over 60 percent of women were unhappy with their bodies, as they have been raised comparing themselves with Barbie and other various models of the fashion industry.