Barbie Doll

by Marge Piercy

This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.

She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.

She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
and offered them up.

In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker’s cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn’t she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.

60 responses to “Barbie Doll

  1. I have read this before, and the ending holds truth in many suicide cases for young women. Beauty is only a part of what makes ones human capital and people should focus on other aspects they can improve on.

  2. I do not think you can get rid of the barbie doll concept because no matter what there will always be that perfect women or man everyone wants to become.

  3. This poem reminds me of how the media contributes to body image problems. There are many people in the world that have trouble being comfortable with their own body because of the pressure to be beautiful. The idea of beauty has turned into something superficial. It is important to remember that everyone is beautiful in their own way and that every body is different.

  4. The media can be the solely blame for changing women’s point of view on how a “perfect women” should appear. It sad to see that this image can be reversed, however it doesn’t.

  5. Although the Barbie Doll may seem to have all the perfect female physical features of a woman, it is never alive. What it really portrays and reflects is the society’s endless pursuit of an ideal feminine body. I think the impact the Barbie Doll brought us will never be reversed but rather amplified by the next big invention of Barbie’s replacement. Actually, the future is already here, by using 3D-printing technology any girl can now visualize her ideal doll on a computer and make herself a perfect doll in a matter of minutes…

  6. This poem highlights the harassment women receive because they are not up to par with society’s standards. I think it is also important to remember that it is not easy being a male in today’s society. All through out history young men have also been manipulated to be slender, or have no hair on their body, or a lot of hair, to have a natural looking muscle tone; now it is the trend to pump themselves full of steroids and hormones in order to have outrageously large and sharply cut muscles. It’s nearly impossible to achieve, but there are so many men (and women) who are basically taking up another career in order to gain the muscle tone that is deemed attractive to society. Obviously, it is important to be active and eat healthy foods, but we don’t have to get crazy about it. America needs to take a chill pill and be okay with the way humans are naturally.

  7. The last sentence in the poem caught my attention the most, “To every woman a happy ending.” Is that really what it has come to, women never being happy with themselves, never being content with their appearance? I think that a lot of this has to do with the media. Some people in the media have tried to make it seem that it is ok not to be a small size, but yet isn’t that all we keep seeing? Big well-known fashion magazines always having size 0 models on their covers, celebrities always advertising weight loss products, media constantly critizing celebs for weight gain. It’s very unfortunate that young girls feel the pressure to look a certain way.

  8. Todays society is very different in how we view beauty. It is very superficial. Women, even men, have the same expectations on what beauty is. And it’s scary to see how far it takes people to try to be that perfect “Barbie doll”. But it’s sad that it is that way.

  9. this poem has a great message and it is sad that people let media dictate what is beautiful and what is not. I know it is hard because that’s what people grew up with which makes it hard to be reversed. I hope it can be reversed and start trying to make an effort also, because it is lowering the self esteem of many people who do not match the Barbie doll.

  10. Life wont be easy if you try to be something else instead of yourself. Nobody can be you but yourself. Accept the people who accept you for you and forget about the people who want to to be something else you are not. As long as you feel comfortable in your skin thats all that matters.

  11. It was interesting to hear that Barbie Doll had two different ending views. However, my perception of this poem was unique. Barbie Doll is a great example in how women in our society have been manipulated to think that beauty is a a certain way. Although the media has idolize beauty as a barbie. The media could reverse it, and express to people that the true beauty is within themselves.

    • I believe you haqve an excellent point. This constant barrage over the past 50 years in the media has caused the distortion of reality that includes making young women lose perspective. Character far outweighs the young woman’s being the most beautiful person in the room. This kind of post-modern mindless consideration of the value of other people’s reactions to negative and cruel comments.

  12. Society, is all that matters when it comes to a woman. Its almost like we’re objects. Not humans. We are see I that we’re suppose to be a size 2, blonde hair, 6ft beauty. This poem is so much.

  13. Barbie dolls are given to young girls to shape our perception of how women should be. That’s why they come dressed in every possible scenario. Given long hair and made up faces, high heels and perfect bodies. They should make short Barbies, fat, unmade faces, different hair types and styles so that young girls can find the doll that looks like them instead of trying to fit he dolls image. Suicide is becoming a more prominent answer to imperfections and ridicule because of it. Its not just young girls either, older women spend tens sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery trying to enhance their appearance only to look more mutated in the end. This poem should be given to young girls to read instead of Barbies to mirror, maybe that will set them up positively in the long run.

  14. This poem is about how a girl was judged by society for her looks. I also got from this poem was about accepting yourself for who you are inside and out. Another point this poem is trying to make is “who cares what people say about you sticks and stones may brake my bones but words will never hurt me”.

  15. This is how society is, this is the modern day social norm now and it’s up to us to change it, but I don’t think we can change it. This is so embedded into our society that our children need to grow up around this. Sad.

  16. This poem was sad because the little girl let society think she wasn’t pretty because she had and her classmates told her this “you have a pretty big nose and fat legs”. But looking a certain way because society “thinks it’s right” resulted to the little girl cutting her nose and causing her to die and she looked pretty because how she was displayed in her casket for everyone to see how beautiful she truly was.

  17. The message I got from this poem is to watch what you say, especially to a developing girl. This girl was perfectly fine until she was so rudely judge. The person in this poem that told her about her nose and legs will probably never think of her again. However this girl she will never forget her words. This is why I strongly believe in the old saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say than don’t say anything at all.”

  18. In our society appearance is everything. Everyone wants braces, (though they might not be necessary) everyone wants trendy clothes, everyone wants to be skinny and so on. People are judged because they do not look a certain way.
    Everyone is different and everyone thinks different. Why should we all look the same? Diversity is a beautiful thing and having black wavy hair is just pretty as straight blonde hair from a barbie. We need to love ourselves in order to be confident in everything we do.

    • I totalty agree with Gabriela, people are very caught up with what society wants them to look like. This story is very eye opening. I have many friends that have had some kind of surgery, but at the end of the day. They are still unhappy with themselves, because society says “to them” that the work that they had done on themselves is just not enough.

  19. This poem is to remind girls that there’s not a certain way to look just because society has a figure in their head. Everyone is not going to look like Barbie and plus who even has the power to say that girls should look like Barbie? If there was a different image being told that’s how we should look then girls would be aiming to look like that figure as well. Everyone has a different body and as long as you feel good and confident no one should be telling anyone what they should do to look better. People are in love with different bodies, personalities, etc. just because it’s not your forte doesn’t mean you should suggest that something needs to be a certain way.

  20. This poem was very interesting to me. I feel that the idea of Barbie will never go away, even though she is not the norm for society. Big business are going to keep pushing the idea of perfection, especially on our young people. I feel that (some) of our young people see this perfect (fake) woman and want to be like her by any means necessary. People just don’t look like that, and if they do, they have had some or a lot of work done on themselves.

  21. I do find it disturbing that women are encouraged to do unhealthy things to their bodies to get the perfect figure when there is no such thing. IT saddens me that the world is like this.

  22. Barbie just made a deal with the Girl Scouts. There will now be a girl scout barbie that wheres highheel hiking boots. Girl Scouts is one of the last organizations where girls where encouraged to go on rugged outings and get dirty like the boys. Now girls will have even another field where they are supposed to be constantly put together, with a fake face.

  23. This poem remind me of the time i have to write an essay about Barbie Doll in English 1A. Barbie doll is just a toy. It is the source of entertainment and not something to imitate. I don’t think Barbie impact can be reverse because there are going be something to replace it. At the end of the poem, i think she commit suicide which is really sad.

  24. In this piece beauty is running away from uniqueness and life, to seek death by conforming to what others perceive as beauty. Can Barbie effect be reversed? That question can only be answered through the individuals confidence and strong minded who is not easily influenced.

  25. Since the 1950s women have been targeted by society and media to become skinny. What happen to Marilyn Monroe’s times? Back then girls were admired by their thick natural curves. The same Marilyn Monroe had thick legs with cellulitis. Barbie is not the cause of young girls wanting to be skinny, taller or even wanting to have a flawless skin. However, Barbie is the seed of all the plants of health and psychological issues girls face later on in life. Barbie is the initiator but commercial, adds, tv shows, music, and even people close to us. Let’s face it we are all perfectly imperfect. It is scary and sad to know that girls are only happy if the “fix” their bodies through plastic surgery. What girls do not understand that is that by “fixing” something in the outside won’t make them feel any better in the inside because the problem is in their minds not in legs or boobs. Girls try to see the emptiness will always be there is you think that problem is in your looks.

  26. In today’s society, people are judge based on their looks and weight. Intelligence, intentions, and actions are secondary. We live in a superficial world only capable of seeing a person’s value based on their superficial appearance.

  27. This poem dose great to highlight the problems that society has with superficial judgement. Here we have a talented and smart woman that was full of potential, but because all the people around her could see was her big nose and fat legs she never got a chance to shine. Soon all this wore her down and she herself stopped focusing on what she was great at and only say what other people saw.

  28. This poem is very sad and makes so much sense in today’s world we have started telling little girls what they should look like ! That is very sad we have used Barbie to show these girls an ideal face and body . I feel like this poem is intended to show is the many suicides of women and little girls commit because of the unreachable standards of beauty society creates .

  29. This is so sad and yet so true in our society. Women bend themselves backwards to have that “perfect” body and pack on sooo much make up to make themselves feel beautiful. We are socialized to think like this from a young age. The Barbie doll is an agent of socialization for little girls because they’re expected to act a certain way, just like boys are given toy trucks, action figures, guns etc. and expected to act a certain way. Little girls are handed toys that teach them about beauty, domestic skills, and nurturing. These types of toys and dolls negatively affect a girl’s self-worth. They give the message that physical beauty and appearance is important. And because society enforces these standards we hear so many tragic stories of women, teens, and even men that hurt themselves. And why on earth do we idolize those that we see in social media?!!? (Justin Beiber, Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian, Iggy Azalea etc etc). There was a story in the news recently about a young woman that spent over $30,000 to make herself look like Kim. K! This is sickening! & It’s maddening ugh!! As a parent of a little girl, I make sure that I remind her everyday that she’s beautiful and that she doesn’t ever have to change anything about herself because what’s important is that she has self confidence to be comfortable in her own skin. Beauty is skin deep. A beautiful soul, and a caring heart is what makes one beautiful. Parents are the first agents of socialization and we need to teach our children, nieces, nephews, our grandkids that these are NOT the people to look up to!! At least I know I will.

  30. Some people go to such lengths to try to find acceptance from others. Beauty should not be looked at by physical features. It is undeniable that people will judge you, but it is your own decision to whether or not you let it affect you. People should be comfortable in their own skin, and make others love them for what is inside rather than out.

  31. The barbie doll beauty is something I absolutely hate. Why do children have to be so cruel and shallow? why must the beautify of a person be defined by the physical features he or she was born with. People really need to take a step back and retreat from the social expectations of marrying someone who looks like a model. Real beauty should never be defined by what we look like, but by what we do to make other feel beautiful.

  32. The things that happen in Barbie Doll happen on a daily basis, especially to children that are still in junior high. However, it’s recently been considered normal to go through events like this that can affect younger people. Barbie, the doll, has been a beacon of the ultimate and perfect look for women in society. Seeing the title and hearing that the young girl had committed suicide in the end, it hurts to know that younger people are still cruel toward their colleagues at such a young age. There has to be a reformation in the sense of coming together at a younger age because we’re all we’ve got in the world.

  33. Barbie doll beauty is so shallow, so obvious. Real beauty is so much deeper than the immediate external features. I find it very difficult to have real conversations with typical pretty girls, because their ideas of worth and value are so superficial, and that’s what they’re used to. And it’s hard, because they’re obviously suffering from low self-esteem, but on the other hand I do NOT want to feed their delusion! Nature is beautiful. Look to nature and figure it out, not to cosmetics and magazines.

  34. Everyone finds it easy to judge others, and in their fantasy world they don’t comprehend that not every man is looking at just the appearance of a women, and not their personality. The truth is the perfect body doesn’t exist and by trying to arrive to that standard put on by society it can lead to death.

  35. The message this poem has is sad, but true. In society people always tend focus of appearances and bring people down if their appearance doesn’t fit social standards. Many people hurt themselves to try and please others and forget about the things that truly matter in life. What’s even more upsetting is that once the damage has been done that’s when people see the beauty or start to say the things that matter.

  36. Unfortunately this poem holds a lot of truth in our society today. There are so many people that try to change externally and internally in order to conform to society’s guidelines. It is so important for people to love themselves because they are unique and beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, what may be beautiful to one person may be ugly to another. It is much more important what you think of yourself than what others think of you.

  37. This was a great poem which i can relate to. In our society today, there is constant pressure of always looking good. People’s first impression is always based on how someone looks, not on their personality. “Killing yourself to find a man that’ll kill for you”. -J.Cole

  38. This poem is interesting, because I remember when I was a little girl Barbie was technically an “idol” for(the majority) little girls. Barbie was perfect in almost every little girls eyes. It is upsetting that little girls back then felt pressures by society that the barbie image was something to endeavor instead of finding books fascinating.

  39. Barbies effects on society may be reversed, as the appeal of almost impossible standards leaves few with “the look” the media portrays as beautiful. Needless to say this is just a Westernized standard of beauty ingrained into young children through play toys. As the video explained there is a counter movement now to portray real people in every shape color and size in the media. At the end of the day this is all propaganda for the major corporations to feed consumers and market their products. A trend they will exploit for profit. Why do people let profit driven entities dictate their self worth?

  40. So quick are people to judge others just by looking at what ‘brand named’ clothes they’re wearing, or how their hair looks, or the type of shoes worn, or in the case of this poem, their physical appearance. So many people today are so quick to put a label on materialistic things. Show me a good, kind personality and I’ll treat you with respect, thats what matters.

  41. Everyone is equal and we all have a purpose no matter what we look like. I believe that everyone should believe they are the best because no one is can do that for you. Why do things that might risk our life’s if God made us this way for a reason.

  42. I think its sad how people are allways striving to look like a “barbie” figure. Even if society sets how people should look, i still think that no matter who you are or how you look you can still be confident and thats important.

  43. Society thinks that every girl must be skinny, cute, and very feminine features; inside and out. If any girl is caught with tom boy features, and a different body style then society will go into action and start making fun at her until she possibly does something drastic, in this case, kill herself because of it.

  44. There are so many barbie dolls in the world. Most people in show business are barbie dolls too. People want to be like them, and need to be like them.. Everyone has their own beauty, but it is sad the society wants only the beauty barbie dolls have.

  45. If only people looked at people’s heart and their goodness this world will be the best place. we would of never had any problem in this world.

  46. The girl in this poem had everything; good health, intelegent, kind hearted person but the only thing people saw was her nose and legs that were not considered the “beautiful” in their society. Everyone should have seen her for her good qualities besides what she looked like on the outside.

  47. Most women in today’s world feel that they have to have a certain “look” in order to be accepted by today’s society. Most of that blame is to be put on the media and how they perceive and judge women. From a young child, young girls feel that they need makeup and the perfect body.

  48. it was a shame that people only see the true beauty in people once they are gone. if only people can recognize peoples beauty why they are still around because complimenting somebody can really brighten their day.

  49. With time I have learned that immense difficulties that women have to face and overcome in life. We men have it so easy compare to women, and for that I feel extremely lucky. In other words, IS GOOD TO BE A MAN! Yet, I carry with me a strong sense of responsibility.

  50. the real beauty is inside, everything comes second, yes everyone wants to be pretty, but whats a pretty face with nothing behind it? exactly beauty is first found inside than comes the outside.

  51. Self esteem and self worth is important. Those who are beautiful give into peer pressure and change who they are. Dont give in to Peer pressure.

  52. I think how a person sees themselves is a huge contributor to how they act in society. When people bring someones self-image down they shy away from people and resent others.

  53. I think that how a person sees themselves is mainly portrayed by the media on how skinny someone should be. I think that barbie represents perfection, but that can be reversed by the media. Once celebrities have a normal size the barbie will just be seen as just another doll.

  54. I dont believe the effects of Barbie can be reversed because if you look at our media today the Barbie for adults are super models. Even getting rid of Barbie the media will have something just like it. Everywhere we turn we will see these women who are thin and are what society thinks are the ideal women with the hour glass shape. Its horrible that women have to feel like they are not good enough the way they are because they believe they have to look really thin and stay that way.

  55. It’s ironic because her whole life people said she was ugly and talked about her nose and thighs, and now after she is dead they say she is beautiful. It’s too bad that people have this set image of what beauty really is and when they see someone who is not up to that standard, then they are like some alien lifeform.

  56. I do believe the Barbie doll can be reversed but into other celebrities, for example like the Nicki Minaj Barbie. However, I don’t think the idea of a Barbie can be reversed because when a person thinks of a Barbie, one thinks of perfection in all aspects of the body, and that is exactly what we still portray other Barbie’s as. Society is only using celebrities as Barbie because their image is like a Barbie. I honestly think it will take a long time for us to reverse a Barbie’s impact.

  57. The Barbie Doll can be reversed just like the Ken Dolls are out dated. The anwser is Beyonce and Lil Kim for adults and Justin Beiber.

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