Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Poem by Marge Piercy: "Barbie Doll"

Thinking about what happens to girls when they hit adolescence and, no matter how hard they struggle against the prevailing culture, it seems they get chewed up in the objectification mill.  Even the sassiest girl loses some of her sparkle -- and if she doesn't, if she refuses, she's made the odd girl out.

So here's this classic by Marge Piercy:

Barbie Doll

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.

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