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Langston Hughes

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In the two poems we read, “homage to my hips” and “Barbie Doll”, the speakers both face problems yet choose to deal with them with opposing actions. In the poem “Barbie Doll” a young girl who is constantly facing the opinionated and ever-changing image of “perfect beauty” is driven to a breaking point due to constantly being reminded she is not aesthetically pleasing in some ways. On the flip side, in “homage to my hips”, the speaker is proud and appreciative of her wide hips to the point where she flaunts them in the poem themselves. She goes against the standard norm many people desire of having a slim, petite body, and instead, gives her hips the importance as if they are actual people themselves. One would imagine how much criticism the speaker in “homage to my hips” would get, yet this carefree attitude that is prevalent in the poem gives you a sense that she is extremely content and jubilant with what she has. The darker atmosphere in “Barbie Doll” shows that the speaker, who is constantly trying to please the people around her, never does.

This drives her to her untimely demise, and as a result, she is never pleased with herself. One other thing to note is, in “homage” the speaker has one thing, her hips. In “Barbie Doll” the speaker is described to be intellectual, smart, and having strong arms. Yet, the speaker in “homage” who only has one thing to show off, is more happy than the speaker in “Barbie Doll” who has so many great characteristics to show. This is due to her only listening to what the society around her told her to be ashamed of, and not what to be proud of. This example portrays that people must be grateful for what they have, and if they are displeased, to either find a solution to their problem, or move on from it.

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