top of page

Barbie Power - Margaret D. Stetz

Miss Revlon

(wide eyes and tiny pouty mouth

stubby body outsize head—

a glamour fetus)

was my doll

but in my class

a girl had

Barbie and

her Dream House

that was Barbara

who said she was

my friend

(was it because we both

were fat

and laughed at?)

her hair was

“dirty blonde”

and mine just

brown and dirty

(baths were

once a week—

my parents’ legacy

of life in tenements)

but “dirty blonde”

was close enough

to let her use the name

of “Barbie”

and turn my “Margaret”

into “Midge”

“come over to my house

we’ll play with Barbie”

she repeated

while I begged and begged

my parents

until my father

drove me there

her mother

who was also fat

served lunch

seemed very glad to see me

(was I the only girl

who’d ever visited?)

made conversation while

her daughter ate

in silence

then Barbara

led me upstairs to her

bedroom which

was vacuumed neat

and orderly

(unlike my home)

pink walls and

pink shag carpet

(we had no carpets—

linoleum only)

she pointed to the floor

for me to sit

while she sat on her bed

held up her Barbie

Barbie’s Dream House

Barbie’s wardrobe

dresses shoes accessories

little handbags hats

a hundred bits of stiffened cloth

and plastic

then dumped them

on the rug

she looked at me

with eyes as narrow cold

as Barbie’s

and told me


I wouldn’t


we went downstairs

her mother

offered me a Snickers bar

and talked

until my father’s car arrived

so could I say

that I had played with Barbie?

or was it just

that Barbie played with me?

I see

that doll today

I see

its placid painted features

masking hungers

its Dream House

a Pandora’s box

of nightmares

where girls played out





Margaret D. Stetz is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies at the University of Delaware, as well as a widely published poet.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page