Marge Piercy’s Barbie Doll Essay

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Margie Pearcy's "Barbie Doll"

Margie Pearcy's "Barbie Doll" details the image that society projects upon and expects from its young female population. From an early age these young women struggle to conform to the standards that society has defined for them. The results often are disastrous, leading to emotional conflicts that are often difficult if not impossible to resolve.
     Beautiful, flawless dolls such as Barbie are frequently the first source of association that little girls have with the values placed on them by society. Parents give little toddlers dolls, miniature stoves, and cherry-candy colored lipsticks (2-4) for playthings. This would seem innocent enough, but already the
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At this point, the girl begins the struggle to achieve the ideal female persona , that Barbie Doll image with the perfect face, hair, and unrealistic figure.
     Not only does society set standards for physical attributes, it also dictates stereotypical behavior of the female toward members of the opposite sex. The girl is told "to play coy, exhorted to come on hearty, exercise, diet, smile, and wheedle" (12-14) to attract men. She is to employ manners that are actually fake, not a true representation of what she is on the inside. In addition to feeling she must look beautiful and thin, the girl is pressured to act in a pretentious manner to be accepted by society as an ideal member of her sex. She must "play up" to men and say and do things that will bolster the male ego and solidify her role as the ultimate female. This type of programming instills a sense of "losing" one's inner self. "Her good nature wore out like a fan belt" (15-16) symbolizes this loss of self and a change in the girl's attitude. As a result of compromising or losing her true self to the demands of society, the young girl/woman is confronted with the realization that living this "fake" existence has left her lonely, empty, and in pain. Dejected and depressed, she symbolically "cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up" (17-18). The girl's emotional suffering is so intense that she

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