When you claim to be ugly society tells you that you’re beautiful and when you say that you’re beautiful society tells you that you are conceited. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson) Society tells us what we should be, who we should be, what we should look and act like and what is perfect. Too many woman try to fit this ideal of what we should be based on media and society in an imperfect world. Marge Piercy is criticizing this in her poem “Barbie doll” written in 1999. The poem shows how ridiculous it is the way we try to conform to what society’s ideals are for the perfect woman. Marge Piercy an American poet, novelist, and social activist was born in Detroit, Michigan, to a family deeply affected by the Great Depression. She was the first in her family to attend college, studying at the University of Michigan. Her first book of poems, Breaking Camp, was published in 1968.An indifferent student in her early years, Piercy developed a love of books when she came down with rheumatic fever in her mid-childhood and could do little but read.
“It taught me that there’s a different world there, that there were all these horizons that were quite different from what I could see,” she said in a 1984 wired interview. As of 2004 she is author of seventeen volumes of poems, among them The Moon is Always Female and The Art of Blessing the Day , as well as fifteen novels, one play, one collection of essays, one nonfiction book, and one memoir. Marge Piercy was born March 31, 1936 in Detroit into a family that had been, like many others, affected by the Depression. She was raised a Jew by her grandmother. At age fifteen Piercy began writing both poetry and fiction, right after her family moved into a house where she had a room of her own with a door that shut – in other words, when she had privacy for the first time. Her novels and poetry often focus on feminist or social concerns, although her settings vary. While Body of Glass is a science fiction novel that won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, City of Darkness, City of Light is set during the French Revolution. Other of her novels, such as Summer People and The Longings of Women are set during the modern day.
All of her books share a focus on women’s lives. Woman on the Edge of Time mixes a time travel story with issues of social justice, feminism, and the treatment of the mentally ill. This novel is considered a classic of utopian “speculative” science fiction as well as a feminist classic. Piercy’s poetry tends to be highly personal free verse and often addresses the same concern with feminist and social issues. Her work shows commitment to the dream of social change rooted in story, the wheel of the Jewish year, and a range of landscapes and settings. When children are born they all do the same things, going “pee-pee” is one of the basic functions of the body. This isn’t something that can be changed or judged in any way because every human does it but you can see how quickly that changes when she says “Miniature GE stoves and irons and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy”. This is a small representative of what the future holds for these children.
As a girl society expects them to look like a doll. Everything pristine, no excuses. People will say if you gain wait, it’s your fault. If you aren’t successful, it’s your fault. As puberty approaches, a girl will begin to fill into her woman body and still be expected to have the figure of a Barbie. As we age, our features change quicker than we would like. Boosts of physical maturity can cause us to not understand why we can’t look “perfect”. Piercy describes the girls physical appearance “She was healthy, tested intelligent, possessed strong arms and back”.
Her body is beginning to mature to be child barring, as humans, men are genetically engineered to be attracted to girls with curves and some meat on their bones. A girl with a good body is likely to be thought to be a good future mother. Some girls will mature faster than others like Piercy explains “abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity. She went to and fro apologizing. Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.” Although this girls body is only maturing faster than others she feels so out of place that she thinks she has to actually apologize. It seems as if this girl would rather be dead and beautiful then alive and ugly.
Finding who we are and what we want to look like in today’s society is pressed into our heads even more now than it was in the 1900s. The word “beautiful” has almost diminished in meaning. Who is to define beauty and put a label on whom and what is beautiful and what is not? No one is perfect and as humans that is something we all strive for. With how quickly people and opinions change, what’s considered beautiful today may not be tomorrow. Fighting against these preset idealized notions of normality is what we have to do to keep people happy with the way they are. Stop judging others by what you see. Because, what you see is what you want to see. People can’t always strive to be something that they aren’t to the point where they would rather be dead than alive trying to win people over. No matter how beautiful you are, even as a dead person we are dressed up to look beautiful.