Pain Is Beauty, Beauty Is Pain

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English 112
Pain Is Beauty, Beauty Is Pain

The poem, “Barbie Doll,” by Marge Piercy, implicitly criticizes the way that women are mixed into stereotypical roles from the time they are young. This poem makes it clear this standard of perfection is impossible to achieve--at least not while one is alive--and starts with something relatively careless at a young age, a Barbie doll. The Barbie doll, one of the best-selling “toys” of all time, has become an icon of U.S. culture for the way it idealizes the female body. Young girls all around the world attempt to model themselves after this “perfect” woman. The urge to become a disproportionate female with a painted on smile overshadows the ideal to love yourself as you are. However, this goal is unachievable. Piercy is trying to rebel against society’s deriding ideals. The ironic tone of this poem implies that America’s stereotypes for women are ultimately destructive. While the audience that Piercy is trying to reach is America, the poem is specifically telling a story about a young girl, so it is reaching out to young girls through the story and the theme. ‘Barbie Doll’ goes in depth through the situations and hardships of being a teenage girl. Though the poem was written in 1973, these distorted views of beauty still hold true. We, as teenage girls, are bombarded with visuals which both tell us who to be and how to act. As children, we are presented with plastic toy kitchen sets, dolls with pink dresses, and makeup kits. As teenagers, there are magazines advertisements and clothing stores, all catering to the anorexic, size zero, “sexy” woman. Before we have even had a chance to establish who we are as a person, we are cast into a plastic mold that society believes we should fit in. By providing examples of objects that America is familiar with, this allows the readers to relate to the story better. In the poem, the main character has not been given a name. This is because the story is not actually...
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