The poem, "Barbie Doll," written by Marge Piercy tells the story of a young girl growing up through the adolescence stage characterized by appearances and barbarity. The author uses imagery and fluctuating tone to describe the struggles the girl is experiencing during her teenage years, and the affects that can happen. The title of this poem is a good description of how most societies expect others, especially girls to look. Constantly, people are mocked for their appearance and expected to represent a "barbie-doll"-like figure. Few are "blessed" with this description. The female gender is positioned into the stereotype that women should be thin and beautiful. With this girl, the effects were detrimental. The first stanza describes the influence that a child is placed into during early childhood. Girls are expected to play with "dolls" and "stoves and irons," the usual toys that relate to the old-fashioned duties of women. A young girl begins to learn what she should be for society and not to deviate from the norm. The tone used in this stanza is quite silent and simplistic at first,...
We may know the most controversial piece of molded plastic formed into the shape of an out of proportion woman with blonde hair. Her name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, or as we know her, Barbie. With her odd portrayal of a woman, many believe that Barbie should be banned for suggesting to young girls that a woman only has one image to strive for. But Barbie is no more than a “piece of plastic” molded into something that looks nothing like a woman at all; she is a simply innocent child’s toy that should never be used as a tool for feminists. The Barbie controversy started in 1959 when she was introduced to a toy fair in New York after becoming popular overseas. The controversies went from her being too lewd to being too thin, both reasons supposedly encouraging unacceptable thoughts in the minds of young girls. Although many believe that this toy is harmful, we need to see that Barbie is just an innocent toy that promotes positive imagination of future careers and self-image in our young generation of females.
In Marge Piercy’s, “Barbie Doll,” we see the effect that society has on the expectations of women. A woman, like the girl described in ‘Barbie Doll’, should be perfect. She should know how to cook and clean, but most importantly be attractive according to the impossible stereotypes of womanly beauty. Many women in today’s society are compared to the unrealistic life and form of the doll. The doll, throughout many years, has transformed itself from a popular toy to a role model for actual women. The extremes to which women take this role model are implicated in this short, yet truthful poem.
No matter the passing time or the era the world is in, young women maintain affected by negative body images which need to truncate at an early age before it the negativity has a chance to resonate in their impressionable minds. Since young girls are brought up to have these bodily expectations that are at times unreasonable, sometimes expectations arise from other peers causing name-calling and negative comments to ensue causing devastating consequences. In Piercy’s poem she talks about girls growing up with their traditional toys such as dolls and lipsticks. (643) At first Barbie looks like a harmless toy that girls have played with for 52 years (Gelder, 116) but conceivably the doll starts the problem due to Barbie prevailing to remain not typical to the average human body stature. Casey Tallent and Dr. Jan Deeds work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Women’s Center in the gender studies segment. In particular, this pair organizes a workshop that they bring to schools as early as the middle school years. They proportion out Barbie to how she would look in real life. In realit...
The idea of Barbie came about when a woman named Ruth Handler was watching her daughter play with dolls. In the 1950’s, girls of all ages only had paper or cardboard dolls to play with and preferred to play with cut outs of teenagers and adult dolls. So, Ruth Handler thought to make The Teenage Fashion Doll for older girls, as a three dimensional doll, called Barbie, named after her daughter Barbara (Heppermann 2010). However, Mrs. Handler met resistance when she went to her husband with the idea, and he didn’t think her idea would work out. When they travelled to Germany, she found a doll called Bild Lilli. This doll was a strong-minded individual that would use all at her disposal to get what she wanted. Bild Lilli was adult-bodied; which represented exactly what Handler had in mind for Barbie. In 1959, Barbie made her debut at the American International Toy Fair. This was the start of a new revolution, as far as dolls were concerned because for the first time, dolls did not only consist of paper and cardboard dolls, but also a more realistic, three dimensional doll that resembles what girls would want to be like, and can physically hold. But, like many toys, Barbie’s fame was not without its challenges.
Over the years, Barbie dolls have received a lot of criticism in the feminist community, but for what? With an unrealistically tiny waist and idealized looks, she’s almost too perfect. That kind of role model couldn’t be healthy for young girls. These judgements have been made for decades, but it seems that society has lost the true meaning of feminism. Instead of analyzing Barbie’s immense success and drivenness, the critics reduce Barbie to a stereotypical dumb blonde. Despite countless criticisms for her unrealistic body proportions, Barbie has proven time and time again to be a fantastic role model for girls in their perception of gender roles, possible career choices, and physical limitations.
In "Barbie Doll", Marge Piercy reveals the societal expectations girls are raised with from birth. Beginning her life in a mundane way, "this girlchild was born as usual"(1), becoming a disappointment straight from birth. She was treated as on abject, programmed for the role society felt she should have, and had no identity except for the gender she was born with. This girl was so objectified and generalized with other girls that she was not even given a name in this poem, but instead is just referred to as a ‘she’. At a young age the girl was "presented dolls that did pee-pee"(2), then "miniature GE stoves and irons"(3), training her to be an ideal, but average mother. Then she was presented with "wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy"(4), training her be a sweet like cherry candy, and wife desirable for her husband. During the awkward stages of her puberty she was told she had "a great big nose and fat legs"(6), making her not good enough by society's standards.
The Barbie is a plastic, man-made female toy, which has perfect facial symmetry, unnatural body dimensions, and perfectly unblemished white skin. In Chris Semansky’s Overview of “Barbie Doll,” he explains that the Barbie “is invented to show women have been socialized into thinking of their bodies and behavior in relation to a male-controlled idea” (Semansky). The title directly alludes to the Barbie toy, which represents a design of a man-made construction of the female image that shows an unnatural human form that could only exist inside the imagination of men. Throughout both “Barbie Doll” and “The Birthmark” you will find the female protagonists seeking an ultimately perfect form, free of the characteristics that those around them see as unworthy. It is as if they are chasing the blueprint of perfection that is present in the Barbie. The original Barbie came with three outfits a bathing suit, a tennis outfit, and a wedding dress (Semansky). Her outfits clearly symbolize restrictions forced on female privilege, identity, and autonomy, where “she embodies the ideals and values of her middle-class American community” who expect her to “spend her days at the country club and her afternoons cooking dinner for her husband” (Semansky). This is directly similar to the “outfits” those around the women in “Barbie Doll” where the girlchild is born
In The Barbie Doll, the author writes about a girl' s life. The author starts off by describing her childhood. She was given dolls and toys like any other girl and she also wore hints of lipstick. This girl was healthy and rather intelligent. Even though she had possessed many good traits she was still looked at by others as "the girl with a big nose and fat legs". She exercised, dieted and smiled as much as possible to please those around her. She became tired of pleasing everyone else and decided to commit suicide. During her funeral those who she had tried to please in the past were the ones to comment about how beautiful she looked. Finally she had received the praise she was longing for.
Imagine being a 5 year old girl playing with baby dolls and brushing your Barbie doll’s hair and feeling fat. A 5 year old feeling fat sounds crazy, right? Well with the influence Barbie has had for years is causing girls younger and younger to feel that their body is not “perfect”. Eating disorders, unrealistic expectations, and self-confidence are all at jeopardy once a young girl is rewarded with her first Barbie doll.