Marge Piercy – Barbie

No Flashback Friday today.

I’ve had this poem on my mind a bunch lately. I’ve been spending more time than I would like thinking about body image. Specifically my body image. I am pretty damn comfortable with my body, but I feel like recently I’ve been spending more time worried that other people are looking at the parts of me that I feel are flawed. (Maybe because it’s summer and I’m too damn hot to hide behind jeans and cardigan sweaters.)

I’ve loved this piece since I was introduced to it in a Women’s Lit class I took at a community college in 2000. I loved so much of what we read in that class; I’m hoping that I still have the textbook packed away in a forgotten box somewhere.

Anyway, Marge Piercy – Barbie.

The girl child was born as usual
and presented with 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, and 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 plat cor,
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.


Filed under feminism, interesting reads

2 responses to “Marge Piercy – Barbie

  1. Yeah. That.

    I think I might weigh the most I’ve ever weighed. Or close to it. Last night I got into our pool. In a swimsuit. And my husband said HUBBA HUBBA. And then va va voom. And if the kids hadn’t been in the pool you can use your imagination. SO yeah. My thighs are huge. I like cake. What the fuck ever. I don’t spend that much time worrying about how I look anymore. Though it does cross my mind. Like last week when my ex said “I don’t date fat girls.” And I was like “UH I WAS FAT WHEN WE WERE MARRIED YOU ASSHOLE. And you said I was beautiful. SO which thing was it?” Men sometimes. Honestly.

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