Societies Destructive Idealism
Marge Piercy wrote the poem “Barbie Doll” in her 1973 collection, To Be Of Use. The story follows the life of a young girl growing up with modern expectations that she struggles to conform to. Barbie Doll uses different aspects of a woman’s life to express the different pressures on women in today’s society. The first characteristic Piercy uses to emphasize the stereotypes attached to women are images, colors, and toys that are traditionally associated with girls; the main character of the poem is given gifts that are very feminine. The other aspects Piercy utilizes are the magic of puberty, and she also uses the popular children’s doll Barbie, as seen in the title of her poem. To highlight society’s expectations on women, the main character at the end of the first stanza is ridiculed by a peer because of her looks. Stereotypes of how a woman should appear and behave have always been around in some shape or form. These ideas are instilled in girl’s minds at a young age. These ideas, however, can be very difficult for women that cannot or wish not to conform to, such as the main character in the poem who in the end has taken her own life because she couldn’t fit in. By using the iconic image of the Barbie Doll, Piercy criticizes the ways in which women are socialized into stereotypical feminine behavior. Written similar to a fairy-tale, the poem suggests that society pressures women to conform to particular ways of looking and behaving and that in the end these are destructive. The Barbie Doll, one of the best-selling “toys” of all time, has become an icon of our culture for the way it idealizes the female body. For more than 40 years parents have been buying the doll for their daughters, who attempt to imitate Barbie’s appearance and the values that her appearance may embody. Piercy suggests that it is extremely destructive. The title of this poem refers to Mattel’s Barbie Doll, a popular toy for young...
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