Written during the height of second wave feminism in 1973, Marge Piercy's "Barbie doll" (236) is a social commentary on beauty standards and the worth of women. The poem's title is a reference to the popular children's toy by Mattel, the Barbie doll. Even though this was a toy made for young girls, it has always had a connotation of sexuality and the "ideal" beauty. Piercy makes the critique, through the poem, that the standards of beauty projected by the Barbie dolls are harmful and how they are damaging to the self-esteem and the physical well-being of young girls. Because the girl in the poem does not fit the standard set forth, she is laughed at by her peers and devalued for her lack of classic beauty.
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.
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.
Barbie Doll In Marge Piercy’s Barbie Doll he use descriptive diction, appalling sarcasm, and appealing ethos to exemplify her theme of negative peer pressure. First, she uses descriptive diction to not only show the character but give out the effect of negative peer pressure. She starts with words that describe a normal young girl who plays with “dolls that did pee-pee and miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy”. All these words describe the average toys that a girl child play with. Then the author uses the word “magic” to describe puberty as if it is something spectacular.
Life as Plastic Both today and yesterday's society have created a mold that young women are expected to fit in to. Tall, tan and slender girls are often looked at as the beautiful members of society. The positive and wonderful qualities of both women and men are often overlooked because of physical appearance and image. Marge Piercy accurately portrays the unreachable standards placed on women to be beautiful from adolescence into adulthood by her use of fluctuating tone and effective symbolism in her poem “Barbie Doll”. The poem follows a young girl from her childhood to her adulthood in a third person omniscent point of view.
Ironically, the dimensions that Barbie would not even be anatomically possible on humans. A women with her dimensions of 36-18-38 would not be able to live. The perfection Barbie portrays has influenced many women attain Barbie's body by having operations to make themselves "look like" Barbie. Cindy Jackson, founder of the Cosmetic Surgery Network, is a famous Barbie Doll human. She had more than twenty operations and dispensed more then $55,000 in her attempts to look like Barbie.
All of these things helped conform little girls into thinking that their role in life was to be something pretty for a man to look at. Modern times are not that much better. Little girls are still given Barbie dolls and feel pressure from an adolescent age to look a certain way. This epidemic is causing girls to succumb to eating disorders, face bias when it comes to their appearance by others, and have a general low self-esteem. Stereotyping people is just as dangerous as bullying
Since the creation of the Barbie doll in 1959 by Mattel Inc., the public has scrutinized the doll for her impractical body proportions and excessive wardrobe, accessories, and lifestyle. Perhaps Barbie is more than just a toy, she may have a prominent influence and psychological effect on the children that play with her. Barbie’s unrealistic body proportions have created a negative influence for young girls, causing them to feel self-conscious of their body image. The negative psychological effects of the Barbie doll on young girls have been recorded by psychology professors Helga Dittmar, Susan Ive, and Emma Halliwell. In their 2006 psychological experiment, Does Barbie Make Girls Want to Be Thin?
Barbie Doll Women have a wrong perspective about beauty. With media and social networking on the rise, the standard of beauty is skewed to what others portray it to be. Women who don’t have supportive people around them to reinforce the true concept of beauty often grow up to be self-destructive and seek validation from all the wrong places. There is too much importance and too much anxiety placed on women to surrender to the image of being or becoming a Barbie doll. In the poem “Barbie Doll,” written by Marge Piercy tells a story of a young girl’s short life.
The rhetorical stance that Prager conveys is that Barbie is one of the many reason that young adolescent girls today have body image issues. The intended pathos for “Our Barbies, Ourselves” is directed to those who can relate to Prager’s feelings towards Barbie. Young and middle aged girls can understand Prager’s reasoning for her mixed feelings. Prager gives examples of how she played with Barbie when she was younger and how she felt knowing that Barbie and Ken could never become romantic. Those who have played with Barbie dolls at some length can grasp what Prager was talking about.