True Beauty

Danielle Haas
English 4
October 19, 2009
True Beauty
The poem “Barbie Doll” is titled this way because it describes the difficulties of being a perfect woman, when really; there is no perfect woman. The speaker is very bitter towards this. She describes the situation of her character as very cruel and sad. “Barbie Doll” starts off with a girl who was born like normal. She seems to receive gifts such as dolls and miniature stoves, as if she is being prepped to be a mother already. Eventually she hits puberty and a fellow classmate tells her she is ugly. “You have a great big nose and fat legs” (6). For any teenager, this information would be overwhelmingly devastating. In most cases the saying “you are your own worst critic” is true and to have someone else confirm ones inner most insecurities is heartbreaking.
After her breakdown, the poet writes, “So she cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up” (17-18). This sentence could easily be mistaken for plastic surgery or suicide as a gift to her bullies. The last stanza in the poem makes this situation sound like a death, however I perceive it as the outcome of plastic surgery. When Piercy writes about the girl being displayed in a coffin with the undertaker’s cosmetics on, one begins to assume that the girl’s past was her life and this new look is with her until death. And in a way, her new look is her death. She is no longer the person she used to be. It also says her nose was turned up and she dressed herself in a nighty; pointing out that her nose has changed and she is showing off her legs. This is a great comparison to an actual Barbie doll, but nobody wears a nighty in her coffin. She was simply displaying herself for praise. The only thing that had actually died was her true self. This character changed to make others happy. That is why the poem ends, “Consummation at last. To every woman a happy ending” (24-25).