The Price of Becoming a Barbie Doll
Within our society there is an extraordinary want and need for women to be perfect on the outside. There is too much importance and too much anxiety placed on women to surrender to the image of being or becoming a Barbie doll. In the poem "Barbie Doll," written by Marge Piercy, I see evidence to this idea in the poet's use of irony, her attitude on the subjects of both inner and outer beauty, and her attitude on the significance of words interfering with a woman's self confidence. To begin, the poet's use of irony is felt most toward the end of the poem. The very thought that people would say a person is pretty only after they are dead and it is too late for them to hear is sad and disturbing. "Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said." (23) In fact, the reason a person looks pretty in their casket is because they are "made-up" to look their best. This is seen more specifically with these lines, "the undertaker's cosmetics painted on, a turned-up putty nose, and dressed in a pink and white nightie." (20-22) We are lead to believe that the entire group of people at the funeral thinks she is pretty now that she is lying so serenely in her casket, like an image of a doll. I'd also like to point out the way the poet refers to a "happy ending" as one that is unquestionably a depressing one. "Consummation at last. To every woman a happy ending" is very sarcastic and pessimistic. (24-25) In essence the poet is saying the end has come at last and it's a happy one since a girl got what she always wanted, but at what price did she become a "Barbie" doll? Next, the poet's attitude on the subject of inner and outer beauty is one that is somewhat mocking. For example, to say that one's inner beauty cannot compare to one's outer beauty and therefore is something to apologize for is extreme. "She was healthy, tested intelligent, possessed strong arms and back, abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity. She went to and fro...
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