by Marge Piercy
Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
What's up with the title? Everything's up with the title. The imagery and subsequent ideas associated with a "Barbie Doll" immediately get us thinking about what's considered "normal" for young girls. Since Barbie is such a huge icon in pop culture, we know that the speaker is going to be getting at some big issues related to how we raise girls in America.
And even if you don't have any deep-rooted issues with Barbie, you'll still likely consider the imagery of a doll and imagine something that's lifeless though seemingly "perfect" in the eyes of mainstream culture. So, no matter if you're shaking your fist at the title or imagining perfect hair and legs, chances are you're thinking about unrealistic notions of what it means for a woman to be beautiful and therefore valuable to her society.
Maybe you might even consider something that's vacant and dumb when you imagine a doll. There isn't a whole lot going on behind a doll's eyes, so the title also gets us thinking about how popular culture so often values the not-so-smart over the smart. And, being smart Shmoopers, you know how silly and uncool that habit is.