Study Guide

Barbie Doll Women and Femininity

By Marge Piercy

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Women and Femininity

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. (1-4)

What's usual for a "girlchild"? Why, pee-pee dolls and miniature stoves, of course. If that strikes you as a little counterproductive, then you're getting the gist of this poem, which points out some of the absurd gender roles young women are often brainwashed into fulfilling.

She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs. (10-11)

The girlchild has it all, as far as intelligence and strength go. But still she feels the need to apologize for her fat nose on thick legs, since that's all everyone (society) seems to fixate on. In other words, adult folks (and their kids) often come across as little more than superficial zombie lovers.

Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending. (23-25)

So long as the dead girl looks like a pretty dead girl, everyone is happy. No one even seems to notice that her nose is made of putty and she has no legs. But we're guessing that's because of the whole superficial zombie loving habit. It's a hard one to shake.

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