“Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy
The poem “Barbie Doll’ by Marge Piercy dramatizes the conflict between stereotyping and perfection within society. The title accentuates the theme of the poem; the Doll symbolizes society’s interpretation of beauty and a reflection of how the girl’s ideas of this beauty shape her self-worth. According to Steven Ratiner, author of Giving Their World: Conversations with Contemporary Poets, it is Piercy’s realistic interpretations of life experience which develops the theme of her poetry: "... her poems contain visions of a woman’s struggle to take responsibility for her own life..." By comparing the young lady in the poem to a Barbie doll, the author reveals the irony of the title. The societies within America usually describe someone as beautiful if they are thin and have the perfect body, such as a Barbie Doll. Throughout the poem, the girl is presented as a passive figure that is continually put down by a society obsessed with set standards of perfection. The speaker is aware of the events taking place in the young girl’s life, just maybe somebody who knows her or a person observing her from the sidelines. However, the speaker is not aware of her feelings about what is happening. The poem is written in an open form much like a Barbie storybook or movie, by using similes, symbols, and a fairy tale-like tone, Piercy creates a story starring a suicidal young girl instead of a Barbie, the glamorous sex symbol the girl is compared to throughout the poem. Each of the four stanzas shows the different stages of the girl’s life, and how the influence of peer pressure and stereotypes destroy her. The opening stanza describes how according to society any “girl-child” spends her childhood. It sets the tone with a happy beginning and a positive attitude. She is presented with “dolls that did pee-pee” (2), "miniature GE stoves and irons," as well as "wee lipsticks" (3-4). These items are not only gifts that a young girl would like to have but...
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