Appearance And Femininity In Barbie Doll, By Marge Piercy

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Barbie Doll In the poem “Barbie Doll” written by Marge Piercy, the author addresses the stereotypical ideas of what society believes a woman should look like and how a woman should act. The title lends itself to help reinforce these themes of appearance and femininity by implying that women are to fashion themselves around the famous 1959 Mattel doll, Barbie, whose appearance some argue provides an unrealistic expectation for women to strive to achieve. Piercy goes on to show what happens to the unnamed main character of the poem, when faced with the challenge of conforming to these social norms of beauty and femininity. “Barbie Doll” was written in 1971, in the midst of second wave feminism, which focuses on women’s …show more content…
The nameless girlchild is given items stereotypically given to little girls, not necessarily because that is what they want, but because society thinks these domesticated items represent what women should do and be good at. The mention of cherry colored lipsticks emphasizes the importance society places on the physical appearance of women and at how young of an age it is enforced. The poem continues on to tell of this girlchild’s movement into puberty and how “a classmate said: / You have a great big nose and fat legs” (Piercy 5-6). The focus is placed on the girl’s appearance, which will be referred to throughout the remainder of the poem, especially the mention of her big nose and fat legs, which is mentioned again in lines 11, 17 and …show more content…
Piercy paints the final scene of the girl in her “casket displayed on satin” (19) in the “undertaker’s cosmetics” (20) with a “turned up putty nose” (21). She is also described as being dressed in a “pink and white nightie” (22). With these words, Piercy describes the girl in her casket after trying to conform to the unattainable standards set by society proves to be too much for her. The satin and the pink and white nightie represent soft and beautiful feminine characteristics, things that the girl has finally achieved only in her death. She finally has a nose that society approves of, though it is made of putty, and it is only with this new nose and the cosmetics applied by the undertaker that people finally view her as pretty, which is all she really wanted. The author ends the poem with the following

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