"Barbie Doll" by Marge Piercy

Essay by k6d9College, UndergraduateA-, October 2007

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Living in a Barbie World: Modern Stereotypes of WomenIn 1973, Marge Piercy wrote a poem that 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 today. The first aspect Piercy uses to emphasize the stereotypes attached to women are images, colours, 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 like have always been around in some shape or form.

These 'ideals' are instilled in girls at a young age. These 'ideals' however can be very difficult for women that cannot or wish not to conform to this 'norm', as like the main character in the poem who in the fourth stanza has taken her life because she couldn't fit in. Piercy relates diverse portions of a woman's life to effectively connect Barbie doll expectations of women and her subject.

Piercy strategically uses traditional and nontraditional items, and colours associated with women to point out what society deems feminine qualities to contrast the feelings of her subject. In the first stanza the subject is given gifts conventionally given to young girls: a doll, a play stove, an iron, and lipstick. These items are picked by the author to illustrate that, even from a young age; women are being molded into...