The Barbie Doll Effect
Society's idea to be attractive is to be nothing less than ideal. To lack perfection is not acceptable in society. Also society tells people how to dress and act, having people be and look a certain way to be accepted. The desire to be accepted can destroy ones’ self-esteem and many lose sight of their own true beauty. Many will do whatever it takes to not be, say, or do what society thinks is disturbing. Marge Piercy’s poem “Barbie Doll,” written in 1973, is a powerful poem about society’s pressure on a young woman. The name carries a lot of meaning because a Barbie doll has long been an icon in society. Although it is a children’s toy, a Barbie doll demonstrates a woman with a perfect body and pure beauty. The poem portrays a summary of a life since birth to the end of life at a funeral. The main character in the poem never has a chance to live life to the fullest because she is always trying to please others and be accepted, which leads to a life of unhappiness. Piercy uses form, diction, and imagery throughout the poem to help imagine the “perfect” woman in the eye of society and the price one may be willing to pay.
The form of the poem was written in free verse style. It consists of four stanzas and each stanza tells a different part of the girl’s life. The girl goes from life being simple, playing with toys and having friends to growing up, worrying about looks, what others think, and being judged. These pressures on a young girl growing into a woman can be extreme and change their whole life. The poem begins with the description of a normal child no different from any other child, “The girl was born as usual” (1). There is a transition in the first stanza lines five and six, where the girl goes from young and happy playing with Barbie’s to an adolescent girl being judged by society. The second stanza explains how no matter how perfect the girl is society makes her feel flawed. The third stanza shows how the girl is willing to...
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