Piercy has a fascinating history and high valued awards, but what was Piercy’s message to her audience when Barbie Doll was published in 1973. Piercy was born on March 31, 1936 in Detroit, Michigan into a family that was greatly affected by the great depression. As a child Piercy lived in a segregated neighborhood. Piercy has a half-brother from her mother’s side who is fourteen years older than her. She was raised in the Jewish religion by her grandmother and her mother. Till this day Piercy still remains a Jew.
Piercy attended a public school in Detroit and half way through grade school she became sick with the German measles and rheumatic fever. When she got ill Piercy was disabled from doing what all of the other kids were doing as a result she built an unconditional love towards the world of literature. Piercy attended the University of Michigan and was the first in her family to attend college. At seventeen, Piercy won a Hopwood award for poetry and fiction. The scholarship money that she had won because of the award enabled her to finish college.
She enjoyed the college style of life but found it very difficult to find her comfort zone because of all of the political decisions government had made for woman. Her schooling finished with an M. A from Northwestern University. After her first marriage Piercy lived in Chicago. She proceeded in writing and tried her best to develop poetry and fiction she was not yet able to produce. As a woman society had a horrible out-look on her. Piercy was a twenty three divorce woman living pay check to pay check on multiple part time jobs. She became and activist for the civil rights movement. She wanted woman to be valued not minimized.
Piercy’s early work was omitted because of her feminist viewpoints. In 1982 Piercy married Ira Wood. As soon as her marriage was finalized the couple moved to Cape Cod. Wood and Piercy are both a part of the same work field. Wood is an author, teacher, a former publisher, and the host of a weekly radio talk show called “The Lowdown. ” The due wrote a play titled “The Last White Class” and a novel called “Storm Tide. ” In 1997 they founded a small literary publishing company called Leapfrog Press. Piercy and Wood have a very intimate and loving relationship, till this day the couple is still living in Cape Cod.
Piercy never considered herself to fit into the image of what a woman was supposed to be like in the 1950’s. Piercy published her first novel called “Going Down Fast” in 1969. It was very difficult for Piercy to publish her first book because many did not agree with her feminist viewpoints. Piercy is the author of seventeen novels including four of New York Times best sellers and eighteen volumes of poetry. Piercy has played major roles in progressive political battles of our time. She was in activist in the anti-Vietnam war and the woman’s movement, and most recently an active participant in the resistance to the War in Iraq.
Her novels “Woman on the Edge of Time” and “He, She and It” have great political commitment and imaginative power. With the Baby Boom era in play woman were becoming wives and mothers rapidly. During the Mid fifty’s thou 35 percent of all woman were working and a quarter of them married. Piercy was divorced, unsuccessful, and had multiple part time jobs at a young age. She worked as a secretary, a switchboard operator, a clerk in a department store, an artist model, and a faculty instructor.
Consequently society looked down upon her and fell into the 35 percent of working woman. Piercy’s poem “Barbie Doll appears in her collection, “To Be of Us,” published in 1973. Piercy fundamentally states how humanity classifies woman for their stereotypical demeanor. Piercy uses a Barbie Doll to represent what a perfect American woman should appear as. The Poem begins with a normal young “girlchild” who plays with dolls, miniature kitchen items and pretend make-up. The poem takes an unsuspicious turn when the young girl was criticized by an outsider.
He or she claimed she had to “exercise, diet, smile and wheedle” (page 647 line 14). The poem continues and there is a visual moment of her lying in a casket without her nose and legs “So she cut off her nose and her legs and offered them up”(page 647 line 17-18). Piercy uses the young child’s image as a representation of a Barbie Doll. The young child shows description that challenges were being faced by women of all ages who do not feel as if they do not fit society standards of being a woman. Despite of how sorrowful she felt the truth is she was healthy, happy, intelligent, and beautiful.