Barbie – pretty but powerful

Have you seen the 2023 Barbie movie? Did you grow up admiring Barbie like me?

Barbie was first released in 1959, by Mattel. She was 19 at the time, so technically she’s older than me – but ageless and timeless. Just one thing to love about her. She’s also incredibly flexible (that hyperextended split!). Barbie is feminine perfection with her tiny waist, long slender legs, silky long blonde hair, and that creamy flawless complexion. Those bright blue eyes – wow- the chic never blinks either! But there is so much more to this iconic plastic doll.

I loved Barbie as a young girl… I aspired to be like her, poised and beautiful, fit and fun. She’s the quintessential tall strong female, right?! She could do anything!!! Barbie made us little girls dream, of owning our own Dream House (without Ken on the Deed), of having a career – Flight Attendant Barbie, Nurse or Doctor Barbie, Teacher Barbie, Ballet Dancer Barbie, Astronaut Barbie… the sky was the limit – and beyond! She could accomplish anything and have everything – and she had the best clothes – always fashionable and faultless. She could even have Ken and a family – if she chose to.

Barbie even has her own plane, a pink Corvette convertible, and a motorhome (my brothers tried to sneak Evil Knievel into Barbie’s motorhome, but he wasn’t even tall enough to hold his own around her). Mattel really created a masterpiece of a modern independent beautiful woman. And every day in Barbie Land is THE best day ever!

Did the Barbie Movie capture our love of Barbie and her potential? Well, Barbie had a life crisis when she entered the “real world”… rather telling, isn’t it?  Doesn’t every young woman have that Epiphone, that life moment where she questions everything? What’s my purpose? My role – can I truly be anything I want? What is my future? Am I pretty enough but also smart enough to be powerful and impactful? Am I respected? By women? By men? Must I get married? Do people like me? What’s it all for? What makes me happy?

Barbie didn’t want to be “stereotypical” anymore! She even changed from her iconic PINK wardrobe to blue – symbolic of her quest to be respected in a man’s world perhaps? America Ferrara, Gloria in the Movie, captures this crossroad and conflict of today’s modern woman – every mother, daughter, sister, friend. Her monologue, about the challenges of being a modern woman, is amazing:

“It’s literally impossible to be a woman. You’re so beautiful and so smart and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.

You have to be thin, but not too thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money, because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas.

You’re supposed to be a loving mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or threaten other women because you’re supposed to be part of the sisterhood.

But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that, but also be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard!

It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal and says “Thank you!” And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault. I’m just so tired of watching myself, and every single other woman, tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a perfect Barbie doll, just representing women, then I don’t even know.”

Words to ponder, take to heart, take to the bank. Feminism has brought more equality and opportunity to women than ever before in the history of time. However, it is still a conundrum to be a modern woman – healthy and attractive, but smart and successful, happy but humble, gracious and grateful, ambitious and assertive but not aggressive. I believe the movie portrays the juxtaposition of today’s contemporary woman well. Maybe Mattel needs to create more “inclusive” Lesbie Barbie, Bi Barbie too, but please no Butch Barbie – Barbie is unequivocally feminine!

Let me know your thoughts on the Barbie movie? Don’t you want to travel to the fanciful fantastic Barbie land for a bit of time, where every day is the BEST day ever?! A place where everything is positive, and perfect, and pretty, and pink?!

As for Ken … he is a nut to crack on another day. For now – he’s KENough.

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