Hi Barbie!: The beauty of feminism in the Barbie Movie
by Talia Medina
Content warning: This article contains spoilers for Barbie (2023).
Barbie was released on July 21, 2023 to theaters and quickly became a global phenomenon. Many people who saw the film retained a deep connection with it and felt that it was beautiful from the beginning to the start.
Some fans, however, believed that the Barbie movie was filled with messages that “radical feminists” follow, where instead of being inclusive to everyone, it was purposely trying to make it seem that they were mocking men to be an “Anti-Male” fueled film. In reality, the film exhibits the real meaning of being a feminist: advocating for rights for everyone and not excluding a group because of (more specifically) their gender.
Barbie is a film directed by Greta Gerwig featuring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. It follows Margot’s stereotypical Barbie as she realizes that something is going wrong after she questions reality, and she must find out how to solve the problem by going to the “real world”. When on her adventure, she realizes that the world is flawed, and while she figures herself out, Ken discovers and brings patriarchy to Barbieland. After the Barbies bring Barbieland back together, they as a whole recognize the world’s flaws, not just for women, but for men as well.
The film shows that feminism isn’t just for women and that being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re “against men”. Rather, being a feminist means that you’re looking for equality for everyone no matter who they are. The film beautifully captures this idea near the end.
At the end of the film, Gerwig really ties these ideas of feminism together perfectly in a pink bow. It begins with America Ferrera giving a heart-touching monologue about the struggles women face, especially today, where the beauty standards have become absurd, and it feels like you’re always walking on eggshells no matter how hard you try to uphold to the standards.
This speech becomes a way to help the other Barbies realize that they are more than what they have been told once the Kens bring “patriarchy” to Barbieland. The speech even helps Robbie’s Barbie complete her journey of self-discovery, when she decides that she wants to live in “the real world” and become her own individual instead of staying in Barbieland not knowing what she’s supposed to do there anymore.
The film also recognizes the struggles of toxic masculinity for men with Gosling’s Ken. He discovers he can be his own individual and does not have to solely rely on Barbie to be complete. She also helps him realize that even though she doesn’t feel the same romantically for him, she appreciates him still as a person and that he shouldn’t be ashamed of not following many standards that were put into society for men to be “stronger”. Ken realizes that the slogan, ‘it’s Barbie and Ken’ isn’t true and that they both can be their own individual selves and that Ken is enough or “Kenough”.
Barbie will continue to be a staple in films as years go on. Because it’s a heartwarming and relatable, yet funny in its capability of explaining that feminism is so much more than what severeal people have written it out to be, the film gives everyone who wore pink and dressed as their own Barbies a feeling of connection. Barbie will be streaming on Max this fall.