Female Body Image and the Mass Media

1579 Words7 Pages
From the time they are born, girls are influenced by society as to who they should be, how they should look, and how they should act. Americans believe that women should be to a certain standard; pretty, feminine, and especially, thin. The pressures derive from family, media, and friends. Marge Piercy’s poem, “Barbie Doll” depicts a girl who was never recognized for her character and spent her life trying to be accepted for who she was, rather than how she looked.

We live in a society with rigid gender roles and expectations as to how people are supposed to be, based completely on their sex. (Benokraitis) Women are expected to be the housewife, take care of the kids, and on top of all that they need to look good doing it. Men are the ones who provide for the family financially, masculine, and are physically strong. These roles are instilled in children at a very early age. Girls play with dolls, makeup, and toy pots and pans. Boys play with action figures, sports equipment, and cars. Our culture inculcates that girls are meant to alter their appearance to look culturally acceptable with make-up and numerous hair products, and know how to cook for their future family. There is even a stereotype of how girls should typically act; emotional, talkative, passive, etc. Not all girls want this for themselves, and it can really impact their self-esteem negatively in the long run after being pressured to be a certain way all their lives. Living up to your parents standards are one thing, but society is tougher.

A major influence on a little girls’ life is one of their first toys growing up: Barbie. The poem is named “Barbie Doll” because the doll represents society’s standard of perfection that girls feel pressured to live up to. Barb...

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... not what size dress they wear.

Works Cited

Arens, Rita. "Can You Prevent Your Child's Eating Disorder?" 18 April 2011. Blog Her Life Well Said. 16 April 2011 .

Benokraitis, Nijole V. Marriages & Families. Boston: Pearson, 2011.

Chapman, Mathew. Dove Ditches 'Real Beauty' in Favour of 'Body Language'. 30 March 2011.

Piercy, Marge. "Barbie Doll." McMahan, Day, Funk, Coleman. Literature and the Writing Process. Boston: Pearson, 2011. 643.

Szabo, Liz. "Your Life USA TODAY." 13 April 2011. USA TODAY. 16 April 2011 .

Tara Kuther, Erin McDonald. Early Adolescents' Experiences With, and Views of Barbie. 1 March 2004.
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