– Trying To Fit The Mold Essay, Research Paper
Trying to fit the mold
Marge Piercy s poem Barbie Doll is an illustration of the pressure that is put on today s women. Young girls are expected to look and act a certain way that is dictated by an unwritten set of rules of our society.
Girls are taught very early in life what is expected of them. They are given dolls, miniature household appliances and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy (4) as toys, preparing them for their future role as mother, housewife and pretty decoration on their husband s arm. The poem indicates that the girl is leading a normal happy life until she reaches puberty. Someone tells her that she has a great big nose and fat legs (6) which changes her whole life. These nine words will rob the child of her self-esteem and ultimately of her happiness. For the first time in her life she feels embarrassed about her body. The girl is described as having strong arms and back, / abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity (8 – 9) which leads the reader to believe that she is somewhat of a tomboy and has a very straightforward personality. To fit into the typical female role, she is advised to play coy (12) and behave in a more ladylike manner. No matter what she accomplishes from then on, she still sees herself as a misfit because of her physical appearance. She is described as healthy and intelligent, all traits that a person should be proud of, but she can only focus on her flaws leading to low self-confidence and her constant apologies for her shortcomings. The girl tries very hard to change herself by following the advice to exercise, diet, smile and wheedle (14). Her friendly and outgoing nature soon changes under the constant criticism. When she is not able to achieve the standardized ideal of beauty and femininity, she reaches a point in her life when she decides that she can no longer cope with the pressure. She deals with her pain by cutting off her nose and her legs, which leads to her death. Ironically, after her suicide she finally hears the words she was longing for all her life: Doesn t she look pretty? (23). A little bit of make-up, a fake nose and a pretty outfit bring her the compliments she always craved.
The author s choice of ending this poem is symbolic. The girl in the poem kills herself by cutting off the parts of her body that have caused her so much pain and anguish throughout her life. Once she has removed them, she is free of the torment and teasing, but has lost her life in the process. It is unlikely that any girl will commit suicide by dismembering herself, but the symbolism is that by trying to fit the ideal woman mold, many women go too far and end up losing their self respect, love of themselves and others and, in the worst case, their lives in the process. The very important point that the writer is making is our focus on external beauty. Our ideal of the today s woman is portrayed in the popularity of the Barbie Doll. Already, as very small children, Barbie becomes our icon of what the perfect female should look like. Women should be tall, skinny, and have delicate features. We need to choose our comments to each other, but especially to our children, very wisely. One careless remark can impress a young mind and influence it the rest of its life. This poem sums up the feelings of most every teenage girl, young woman, and mature woman at some point in their life. Society has given us its idea of what we should be, and it is up to us to struggle for most of our existence to achieve this goal or to learn to accept and love ourselves and each other by putting more value on our internal features and not our exterior. The key to a healthy and happy future of the female population is for our society to stop judging based on external beauty and to accept, love and respect women for who they are and what they have accomplished.