Gender Roles In Barbie-Q, By Sandra Cisneros

2052 Words 9 Pages
Sandra Cisneros’s short story, “Barbie-Q”, describes the hardships endured by a young girl, never identified by name, and the less-fortunate life she and her family lead. The child discloses the rarity of new toys, but purchases damaged Barbie dolls while on a trip to the flea market. The narrator acknowledges the flaws of the Barbies, but counters the stereotypical “perfect” woman standards by implying her gratefulness of possessing any dolls at all. Through this struggle, the girl learns to cope with her burdened lifestyle while also encountering gender roles and values. Cisneros wrote this story in relation to her own childhood, motivated by the social standards of gender roles and body image in relation to the Barbie doll. Sandra Cisneros, …show more content…
The initial place this framework surfaces is in the introductory lines. The narrator depicts each girl’s Barbie doll and elegant outfit, which accentuates her thin figure and assets. However, Cisneros plays on the child’s innocence, and shows an indirect comparison between the girl and Barbie through the girl’s interpretation of her Barbie’s looks. In Trinna Frever’s article, she declares, “Cisneros presents the negative gender influence of the dolls through the appearance of swimsuits worn with ‘stilettos’ and the doll’s confinement within a ‘wire stand’” (127). This connects to the sentence in the story where the narrator is describing the dolls, “Red swimsuit, stilettos, pearl earrings, and a wire stand” (558). This exposes the young girls scandalous clothing and the confinement of women under a man’s power, represented by the Barbie’s stand. These descriptions of the dolls imply the idealistic perfection in Barbie, and the societal standard of how young women should carry …show more content…
The argument is Barbie either provokes a negative image to women or the image of a strong woman proving “girls can do anything” boys can do. How an individual perceives the Barbie determines the effect the doll has. This carries on to younger girls and their mindset on body image. The narrator in “Barbie-Q” follows under the empowering opinion. Proof of this is stated in the quote: “So what if we didn’t get our new Bendable Legs Barbie and Midge and Ken….and had to buy them on Maxwell Street, all water soaked and sooty. So what if our Barbies smell like smoke when you hold them up to your nose even after you wash and wash and wash them….who’s to know” (559).
This part in the story shows the narrator’s acceptance of her dolls imperfections, just as she accepts her own imperfections. This is the biggest point in the story, finding

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