Women in today’s society often have stereotypes imposed upon them and are expected to live up to strict cultural expectations. People establish clear gender roles and girls are told to be girly, wear pink and put on makeup. Some people conform to these gender norms in order to fit to society’s expectations, but others are less influenced and resist. In the poem “Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy, the author talks about these issues and the effect that this stereotypes have on women. It talks about a little girl growing up who is influenced by others opinions and judgement, she also addresses the issues of women who are sometimes bullied due to their physical appearance. Piercy uses a sorrowful tone to create a tragic and sad feeling to the readers. In order to deliver her message of condemnation, she uses a great deal of imagery, irony, and symbolism to show society’s expectation on women and their pressure to be “perfect”. Piercy is trying to make the readers understand that gender roles and expectations should not be imposed, and that we should all be able to wear, look, and act as we want without any judgement. Piercy uses symbolism to show the harsh expectations that are put on women today. The title of the poem “Barbie Doll” is a symbol of cruel and unrealistic expectations put on young women in our culture. It is not humanly possible to look like a barbie doll, and it influences the kids perspective of beauty. On the first stanza the little girl is born and is growing up as a basic little girl who do “pee-pee” (Piercy line 2), who plays with “miniature GE stoves and irons” (Piercy line 3) and puts on”wee lipsticks” (Piercy line 4). Girls are often given toys like a miniature kitchen with stoves etc… This gives a very sexist idea on women, that their job is to cook and make food for the man and stay at home to clean. The miniature kitchen toys and wee lipsticks creates a sort of conflict between the adults and the kids. Older people have a lot of power and influence on kids. What they believe is normal influences the younger people to do the same. The author uses a lot of imagery in order to create a clearer idea of women’s pressure to be “perfect”, like a Barbie Doll. On the second stanza of the poem, the girl is described as a normal teenager who started going through puberty and gained some weight. People started making fun of her because of her “big nose and fat legs”(Piercy line 11), so like a lot of girls of her age she decided to “exercise, diet” (Piercy line 14). Women in today’s society have a lot of pressure to have a pretty body. She felt so insecure about herself do to others judgement that she decided to “cut off her nose and her legs/ and offered them up”(Piercy line 17-18). This imagery gives a strong idea of condemnation and shows that society influences you to the point that you lose your identity. Women today are capable to do plastic surgery and cut parts of their body in order to fit social norms. This sentence is very sad and gives a strong image of pressure on women for a “perfect” physical appearance.On the last stanza, we understand that the girl is dead; “In the casket displayed on satin she lay” (Piercy line 19). But even when she is dead, she is still treated like an object “with undertaker’s cosmetics painted on” (Piercy line 20). She is treated like someone she is not, like if she was not a human but a thing. Piercy also addresses the problem of women who are often sexualized; “dressed in a pink and white nightie” (line 22). Even though she is dead, she still has to wear sexy lingerie. This shows the horrible expectations put on women and how women are often used as an object to play with. This problem is getting worse every day due to internet and commercials that give a bad image of women, like they are just used for sex. All these sad and creepy imagery makes the reader uncomfortable, and hopefully will make people realize that this is not okay. Another poetic element that the author often uses is irony in order to show the stupidity of society’s pressure on women appearance. On the last stanza, Piercy ironically says “Doesn’t she look pretty? everyone said./ Consummation at last./ To every woman a happy ending” (line 23-25). This irony shows that to be happy you need to be pretty, girly, thin, and fake. But this girl’s life was ruined due to these stereotypes and expectations. She is dead, sexualised, and painted like a doll and that’s what people think is “pretty”? The author uses irony in order to create humour but at the same time sadness. Teenagers often think that an ideal body is skinny, or muscular (for boys). Some people believe that if you are pretty you will be happy, but that is a lie. What the author is trying to say is that by educating little girls to be pretty and girly to please others, will eventually result in them losing their identity and humanity. Nowadays, gender roles and stereotypes are very common and don’t only affect girls but also boys. Piercy is against all these things and wants people to understand that we are all beautiful no matter how we look, what we wear and who we are. We shouldn’t be judged for our differences but appreciated for it, because we are all different and that’s what makes us human.
All Research Proposal
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