We are two part-time academics. Ellen teaches in the English department and Jim in the IT program at George Mason University.

Barbie Doll Abuse · 12 July 05

Dear Miss Vane,

I have a couple of follow-ups for today. You will remember my letter to you about Barbie Abusers and Sedgwick’s "JA and the Masturbating Girl."

This morning I read Marge Piercy’s

"Barbie Doll"

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 bakc,
abundant sex 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
——- Marge Piercy

I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the reason such hostility is manifested towards anorexic girls and women is they make visibile the cruelty of society and terrible contradictory demands and ordeal they are asked to go through just a minimal towards survival and acceptance.

I remember those awful lipsticks colored cherry (I’ve never read
Sexing the Cherry by Jeannette Wintersen but maybe I ought to), those miniature stoves and irons. I was told I had a big nose and fat thighs, teased about it.

Piercy is another of my favorite contemporary poets.

I’ll come back very late tonight to respond to a review of Me and You and Everyone We Know where the person said he just loved it and giggled away.

Miss Sylvia Drake

Posted by: Ellen

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