Marge Piercy

(March 31, 1936 / Detroit, Michigan)

Barbie Doll - Poem by 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.


Comments about Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy

  • Emma Atkins (4/15/2016 11:39:00 AM)

    OKAY, HOW MANY TIMES IN THIS ENGLISH CLASS DO I HAVE TO READ ABOUT CHILDREN COMMITTING SUICIDE? CHILDREN WHO SOUND LIKE ME? I HAD THOSE SAME THINGS TOLD ME ME, SAID ABOUT ME, AND YES I'M SAD, BUT I'M ALSO GROWING OVER IT. WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO END IN EVERYONE KILLING THEMSELVES? AM I NO SAD ENOUGH WITHOUT READING THIS ALL THE TIME? ! CAN WE PLEASE HAVE A POEM WHERE THERE'S SOME SMALL REVOLT, WHERE THE PROTAGONIST OVERCOMES IT, WHERE SHE FINDS SOME STRENGTH WITHIN HERSELF? Just once, I want to read something that doesn't end in a cruel and unjust death. Yes, I know the point the poem is trying to make. However, it inspires no change in women. It only tells us that we cannot overcomes society's barriers to freedom. (Report) Reply

    Meeta Ghosh (7/17/2016 1:13:00 PM)

    Read Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. I hope it helps.

    4 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Bonnie Davies (1/1/2016 5:46:00 AM)

    Tragic result when women are socialized to value a narrow range of attributes as being attractive or acceptable. The minature stoves and irons, the wee lipstick mentioned early in the poem introduce two important values: small size and domesticity. The stove, iron and lipstick are wee and cutsey compared with the big nose and fat legs. Cutsey wins. Another jab at the domesticated women is her reference to stove and iron, both useful appliances but when applied can burn as well. And, at the end of the day, the woman is toast. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams Susan Williams (11/1/2015 12:26:00 PM)

    Hard-hitting indictment of society's worship of outer beauty (Report) Reply

    Bonnie Davies (1/1/2016 5:52:00 AM)

    Yes, which makes healthy self acceptance and self worth difficult

  • Deepak Kumar Pattanayak (11/16/2014 5:06:00 AM)

    A sad reminder of this cruel, unjust and discriminating world.....very well presented.........amazing piece (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (11/16/2014 1:02:00 AM)

    A sad thing of events to the girl child and unnecessary apprehensions made to her mind by fellows which is a happening in the modern day and it makes so much problems in one's life that I think. Beautifully told an event. (Report) Reply

  • Colleen Courtney (5/18/2014 6:36:00 PM)

    I find it to be so incredibly sad that people, especially women, are made to feel that they can't just be who they are. To be attractive from what's on the inside. It's a great poem but a very, very sad sad world we live in. (Report) Reply

  • Yvette Jenkins (3/22/2014 6:18:00 AM)

    Wow! Great poem. Very deep and touching! Your use of words to describe the reality of society's perception on image· (Report) Reply

  • Lyn Paul Lyn Paul (11/16/2013 7:03:00 PM)

    Wonderful words wriiten here. I would much prefer to look at a face full of character and expression then to look at one that has no flaws. Very moving and thought provoking. (Report) Reply

    Bonnie Davies (1/1/2016 6:08:00 AM)

    That face full of character and expression has more life than the one modeled after television spokespersons with plastic teeth and hair extensions. They are all begining to look alike.

    Bonnie Davies (1/1/2016 6:02:00 AM)

    I like your comment. That face full of character and expression has more life than replicants trying to model themselves after television personalities with their plastic teeth and hair extensions. They are begining to look more and more like each other.

    Bonnie Davies (1/1/2016 5:59:00 AM)

    I appreciate your comment. The face full of character and expression that you mention has so much more life than the manufactured appearance of women who are trying their darndest to replicate an image in a magazine or one on television. With their plastic teeth and hair extension, they all look alike.

  • Husna Amin Husna Amin (11/16/2013 11:34:00 AM)

    Excellent is the word! the reality really hits you hard... (Report) Reply

  • Liliana ~el (11/16/2013 6:29:00 AM)

    Omigawsh this is really deep and dark. Really unfortunate how this is the reflection of our societies. (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/16/2013 4:31:00 AM)

    Normal girls are now so hard to find
    As each wants to walk the ramp of fame
    Starving to exhibit the missing curves
    All to make money or just a name.....

    Excellent poem I welcome all to my page too fro your valuable comments... (Report) Reply

  • Bertha Khatchadourian (9/6/2013 7:23:00 PM)

    I think that this poem is very sad, but yet very true. mostly in this generation girls try to be something they are not.
    They don't have self confidence, they look at others around them and try to be like them. They need to be happy about what they have not what others want them to have. Not everyone is perfect so just be yourself. (Report) Reply

  • Bertha Khatchadourian (9/6/2013 7:17:00 PM)

    I think that this poem is very sad, but yet very true. mostly in this generation girls try to be something they are not.
    They don't have self confidence, they look at others around them and try to be like them. They need to be happy about what they have not what others want them to have. Not everyone is perfect so just be yourself. (Report) Reply

  • Sevana Avaneceian (9/5/2013 2:36:00 PM)

    I think the poem is really sad. Society has become so bad and alot of women now a days will go above and beyond to change who they really are and I find that really sad. Be happy with how you look and who you are. Dont ever change for anyone or anything. At the end your real beauty is covered and will never be revealed (Report) Reply

  • Sevana Avaneceian (9/5/2013 2:34:00 PM)

    I think this poem is really sad and awfull. So many girls now a days care about beauty so much that they will go above and beyond to change who they really are and actually cover their real inner and outter beauty. Stay the way God created you. Dont ever change for anyone or anything. (Report) Reply

  • Sevana Avaneceian (9/5/2013 2:31:00 PM)

    I disagree I would never change my self for anyone or anything. Your're who you are and if no one doesnt want to except you for who you are then they're not worth your time. Its not all about the looks. Beauty comes in every shape, size and form thats including your're relgion. Be you and stay faithful to your're self and respect what God gave you as human. This is a really sad poem. Alot of girls do suffer from inner and outter beauty. You dont need to starve yourself to stay skinny. Eating healthy and small meal portions are the way to go. Its so sad what alot of females do now a days. Stay the way you are and never change.I think this poem is really sad and awfull. (Report) Reply

  • Sabrina Camba (9/4/2013 12:47:00 AM)

    This poem is the ugly truth. So many girls are told what to do, eat, wear, how to fix their face and hair and how to act. I strongly feel girls and guys should be whatever they want to be. Nobody should judge you of who you are. True beauty come within yourself and that what makes it beauty beautiful. If you want to be all tatted up or all pierced up. Go ahead if that makes you beautiful do whatever or do what makes you happy. that's all that matters. Is what makes you feel good about your self (Report) Reply

  • Lynne Dale Lynne Dale (11/24/2012 8:23:00 PM)

    This is frighteningly true. So many young people, particularly girls, are told how to look and who to be and when they take that on board the results are disastrous. (Report) Reply

  • Chano Leal (11/18/2012 2:21:00 PM)

    I'LL RESERVE MY COMMENT TIS BE PENDING
    THUNDERIOUS THIGHS UPON FAT LEGS TWAS HER APPENDAGE
    AKIN A MILLION WATT BULB, NUDE FROM REAR SHE WAS UPENDED
    THE HUMOR LOST UNDENIABLY COY, NOTHING GAINED, NOTHIMG LOST, SANS OFFENDING. (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty Pranab K Chakraborty (11/16/2012 6:15:00 AM)

    From my childhood school lessons remembering a quote which not possible to forget through out the rest of life...the poem reminds me again...Those who want to please everybody can please none....it was that lesson. Here poet paints the sample of that class of women who simply think themselves nothing but the doll made of flesh and blood. Beauty signifies how do you project your youness, not only by the general appearance of the object. This much. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: candy, pink, magic, woman, nature, happy, smile, women



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004

Poem Edited: Monday, June 6, 2011


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