On my other blog, I wrote about some fun poems, children's poems that can make you smile or laugh outright. The following poem is a sad comment about the way culture and media can be an invidious influence on self-image.
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.
Here is a link to an article Piercy wrote about a problem that still exists, the importance placed on body image, especially for women. I'm glad Piercy also mentions the problem of aging (again, especially for women). Piercy is correct, the problem is even worse today than it was when she wrote the poem. People seem to have the freedom to say things online that perhaps they would not, otherwise. It is difficult to understand how fat old men feel no contradiction about making crude comments about a woman's body, whether "positive" or negative. Not that women are excused, because women are equally judgmental in many cases. Such a strange disconnect!
Piercy's article is a good one, but it is an angry one. Barbie Doll is an angry poem. And despairing. Because things have actually gotten worse. We are all susceptible--old, young, fat, thin, pretty, plain, male, female.