Literary Analysis: "Barbie Doll"

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Literary Analysis: “Barbie Doll” Today’s women hold themselves to unreachable and unreasonable standards of beauty. With media and social networking on the rise, the standard of beauty is skewed to what others portray it to be. Girls and women of all ages and diversity have self-esteem issues due to the “beauty myth”. Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth, defines it as an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of ‘the flawless beauty’.” In Marge Piercy’s poem “Barbie Doll”, the deadly effects of the beauty myth are revealed. It all begins with a young girl being born into the world of judgment. Children believe everything they are told. If they are told they are beautiful, they will believe it until someone tells them otherwise. Young girls are impressionable by their mother’s and female counter part’s actions, such as wearing fancy clothes and putting on make-up. In the poem, the speaker states the girlchild has “wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy” (4), showing that she already wants to alter her appearance. As children grow into young adults, they become aware of outside judgments; as the girlchild was made aware in the poem. “Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:/ You have a great big nose and fat legs” (5-6). Girls are pressured into looking the way media portrays beauty. Unfortunately, outward appearances take on a more important role than other characteristics to teenage girls. The girlchild “... was healthy, tested intelligent,/ [and] possessed strong arms and back” (7-8); yet, she was still judged:“Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs” (11). Finally, as the natural process of aging sets in, women become more aware of their flaws. Adult women are more prone to alter their appearance, whether
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