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Barbie Doll's Influence on Gender Perception and Social Expectation on Girls

The seemingly harmless Barbie doll has been a major competitor of the toy fashion doll sector for more than fifty years. Generating more than $1.9 million in sales per year on these dolls alone, it’s tough to argue that Mattel, Inc., the organization that owns these plastic queens, are far from establishing the ultimate toy empire however, within the previous couple of decades, Barbie has been falling brief on sales and receiving damaging feedback from concerned consumers who usually question the impact these dolls have on self-esteem and gender viewpoint of the young girls who play with them. In spite of the current unfavorable feedback from consumers, Barbie’s fifty year prevalence in the toy industry market has undoubtedly left its influence on the young girls of our society in the previous.

Marge Piercy, a persevering feminist throughout the 1960s, wrote politically moving performs of poetry to demonstrate the deprived reality of ladies. Marge Piercy’s strikingly powerful poem “Barbie Doll,” personifies the Barbie doll as a way to emphasize the cultural impact the societal viewpoint of expectation has on a woman’s image and persona. Piercy explains by means of a third-person omniscient voice that a young girl starts to endure from the social criticism of her atmosphere to the age of maturity. It is portrayed that the young “girlchild” is emotionally ravished by society and beneath the conviction that she will get acceptance, the girlchild matures and is led to believe that death is the ultimate satisfaction. Undoubtedly history displays the proof of ladies struggling through a patriarchal society dominated by these who think that social requirements ought to be set by guys. By means of Marge Piercy’s use of diction, imagery, metaphor, and irony in her critically acclaimed poem “Barbie Doll,” the perception of girls via patriarchal ideals portrays the effects of self-criticism and society’s undying attempts to deteriorate one’s self-worth.

“Barbie Doll” demonstrates the re-occurrence of the destructive normal that society holds for females as it deprives them of their humanity. Chris Semansky, a poet of a copious amount of eclectic perform, examines “Barbie Doll” and concludes that Piercy’s poem acts as an ironic exemplar of beauty and normality. Semansky explains the irony of how the way a single is brought up in the planet affects one’s view of what is “normal”: “This is not intentional or necessarily coercive approach but 1 which adults themselves have gone through and have come to think is ‘natural’. As Semansky has argued, even girls who grew up inside the generation that these patriarchal requirements have been held, are convinced that the way they have been brought up and the ideals that they were surrounded by were completely “natural”. In a psychological aspect these standards had been all they had been taught. With these patriarchal definitions of “normal” that are prevalent today as it was back then, it limits girls from being able to make choices for themselves without having criticism from others. Regardless of the modify in culture, Piercy seems to suggest that progress has been minuscule. The poem symbolizes girls a lot more of as beings of objectivity that are “‘…plasticized,’ turned into creatures who have been riven of their humanity” than of men and women who just seek to discover worth in their own self evaluation of themselves (Semansky 38).

Piercy’s diction throughout “Barbie Doll” exemplifies the coercive standard that society appears to hold for women, not only of that generation in which this poem was written but the present one as well. The words such as lipstick, stove, and diet program mentioned in “Barbie Doll” are representative of the insurmountable regards that ladies are held to even by way of the innocence of basic household items: “Dolls, stoves, irons, and lipstick are all standard issues that tiny girls, specifically in the West, are provided to clue them in to societal expectations” (Semansky 38). With these little accessories talked about in Piercy’s poem that came along with the doll that this “girlchild” was playing with, it seemed to represent the method of womanhood in a degrading manner as this “girlchild” is portrayed to be ultimately fixated on the materialistic definitions that make up a woman of that society. Interestingly adequate Alice Van Wart, a literature professor at the University of Toronto, describes Piercy’s “Barbie Doll” poem as ironic and condemning. Wart suggests that the title itself “…points to the central and controlling device of irony and the symbolic associations among the doll and the women in the poem”. Simply because of the “plasticized” and unauthentic connotation behind the words Barbie doll, it powerfully and metaphorically depicts the significance of control that the patriarchal ideals had on ladies.

Despite the fact that Piercy displays a plethora of metaphors behind the use of diction in her poem, the imagery supplies a vivid image of the kind of life style women lived. Piercy’s poem strongly suggest that at a young age girls are anticipated to appear a particular way in order to gain acceptance from her peers nonetheless, “Because she wants the approval of others she attempts to compensate for her imperfections in other areas” (Wart 40). The imagery displays the young girl’s undying effort to be excellent in comparison to the standards placed on her regardless of her reaching “Consummation at final,” which symbolizes society’s satisfaction with the young girl’s image but unfortunately represents her death (Piercy 24). Wart argues that in spite of the efforts produced by the girl in Piercy’s poem to attain perfection, her strife in the end ends as her life does as nicely: “Piercy subverts the classic implication of sexual consummation to consummation in death”. Interestingly as Wart implies, there appears to be a sense of irony behind the word “consummation” in itself as it can represent two meanings: one particular the significance that the concept of marriage is completed via sexual intercourse, in another the thought of oblivion as a way of getting total. Compelling diction such as coy, satin, and pink are also utilized in Piercy’s poem portraying the perception of fragility and meekness in ladies, which can arguably emphasize that girls had been viewed as defenseless and frail. Coy, satin, and pink represent the idea that females are delicate and innocent merely observing the context of how Piercy utilizes diction, it is evident that she wishes to give critics the thought that feminism and connotation behind the female gender is unintimidating and weak.

Thomas Sepe, an assistant professor under the guidance of Peggy Dunn Bailey, explained his views upon the social imbalance and gender dysfunction that is embedded in Piercy’s “Barbie Doll.” Sepe explores the thought of how the protagonist in the poem is portrayed, instantly supporting the thought that the poem gives off the perception of how women are viewed in society. According to Sepe, Piercy makes use of diction to exemplify the notion of a woman’s role in society: “Piercy’s use of the word ‘presented’ tends to make the method more formal and makes the ceremony a single of dictation rather than of choice”. He emphasizes how diction and foreshadow in Piercy’s poem portrays the concept of a lady as weak and easy while also making the poem sound more lighthearted: “Piercy blends diction, simile, and irony to produce a distinctive tone of lightness that contrasts the reality of the main character, a contrast which is itself a mirror of the girl’s life” (Sepe 2). By means of this idea Sepe argues that Piercy utilizes diction as a way of presenting girls more of as concepts of objectivity and handle rather than of beings with self-identity and esteem.

Despite the overpowering diction to strengthen her voice on feminism, Piercy demonstrates via numerous metaphors in her 25 line poem the inequality of women and the accepted façade of the female gender. Piercy portrays the problem a girl faces as it mentions in the poem that the girl proceeds to “…cut off her nose and legs…” while she also “…offered them up…” to the society that she believes so desires them (lines 17-18). Alice Van Wart further analyses the image that females held upon themselves in the course of that sexist time period. Wart states that “The image of the lady cutting off parts of her physique points to a increasing recognition among girls of employing cosmetic surgery to excellent their appearances”. This form of image altering as Wart implies, is well-liked simply because it allows ladies to have the ability to change their physical look to acquire acceptance from the social setting they are surrounded by. Wart also argues that the mention of this in Piercy’s poem implies “…history of abuse that girls have inflicted on themselves in the name of beauty,” which means that self-criticism is what ultimately leads to drastic attempts to alter one’s image. Image altering talked about in “Barbie Doll” implies that society’s judgments on physical look has left a detrimental effect on the self-esteem of ladies. Simply because of this, Piercy conveys the message that women do not inherently view themselves in a unfavorable manner nevertheless, social standards degrade the mentality that ladies have of themselves simply because of high expectations.

The Barbie doll in itself as Marge Piercy suggests acts as an ironic exemplar in that young girls traditionally play with it, viewing it as one thing seemingly innocent regardless of the underlying requirements enraptured in a minuscule plastic lady who is defined by the realm of her household. The tone in “Barbie Doll” ironically does not imply any sense of animosity, which indicates that Piercy chose to be passively aggressive in sharing her message about female expectation in society. The irony lies within the reality that young girls who are represented as innocent and pure, unknowingly play with issues that look to criticize women themselves. Semansky observed the 1950s women-based culture and concluded that parents offer young girls with these dolls simply because of the popular impression that girls are domestic: “…they think that tiny girls will take pleasure in pretending to be a homemaker or a Barbie doll since these are desires with which little girls are born”. Semansky recommend that the parents are also just as oblivious to the underlying message that the Barbie doll holds as they continue to push young girls to live a life as a controlled becoming with provided accessories that society finds suitable.

As it has been recognized for decades now, the Barbie doll is still a major competitor in the doll marketplace nonetheless, improvements to disarm the facade of ladies in basic have enhanced dramatically right after works such as that of Marge Piercy’s have been released to the public. As metaphorically explained in Piercy’s functions, the Barbie doll in its prime symbolized a representation of how women hold “…expectations of the roles she will have to perform” (Sepe 1). According to Girl Culture’s evaluation of the Barbie doll and its intentions, they explain that considerably of the way the Barbie doll was presented to society was involuntary and left overlooked. Ruth Handler, the original designer of the structure of the dolls, “…claimed that she based the notion for Barbie on what she saw in the doll-play practices of children” (Reid-Walsh 40). This explains that Handler’s intentions for generating these dolls were solely to exemplify the behavior that young girls presented although playing with them anyway even so, it is apparent now that more than the years, the Barbie doll has been disfigured by the expectations society has placed on it hoping that it can meet the perfect standard that females are perceived as.

Regardless of Marge Piercy’s efforts to advocate for gender equality, progress has been slow and paced. Piercy emphasizes the social concerns that females have had to face by portraying a young girl playing with a seeming harmless Barbie doll however, Piercy elucidates the thought of predisposition of gender roles as she argues the insensitive oppression society has laid down on women. Sexism as a complete has limited females from occupational possibilities, wellness advantages, and in a sense a viewpoint on expansion of intellect and adventure. It has inevitably changed the scope of how females have been portrayed: weak and defenseless. In spite of these unending social criticisms, political activists such as Marge Piercy use their proficient poetry abilities to motivate numerous for a alter in how ladies are perceived. Despite the fact that there is a lot area for improvement for ladies to achieve the very same social and gender equivalence as guys, functions such as “Barbie Doll” continue to make sure hope for women even these days.
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