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Δευτέρα, 22 Απριλίου, 2024
ΑρχικήEnglish EditionThe Barbies of the real world

The Barbies of the real world

By Amalia Theocharidou,

“Barbie”, is a 2023 blockbuster movie that has been the talk of the town for quite a while. Bringing back the classic blonde, gorgeous woman with the pink dresses and fancy house that most of the girls have grown up with, Mattel tries to embody the doll in comparison to the more materialistic and less ideal real world. The movie, though, has raised many discussions over its feminist messages and the aftertaste it leaves to the viewers.

The movie starts by pinpointing the ideal life of the Barbies who live in Barbieland, a magical town in which every Mattel toy is brought into life. The town is completely ruled by women and everything seem to function smoothly. The men of the town, or else the Kens, live a carefree life with the only purpose of serving their Barbie. The protagonist is the stereotypical Barbie, the common blonde and thin doll we all know. But as the famous doll starts to notice changes in her body such as cellulite and flat feet, she starts seeking for answers and visits the real world along with her fateful match, Ken, in order to meet the girl who owns her and bring positivity back in her life.

The movie has been characterized as a feministic awakening and it is just right to claim this. Liberal feminism has been the main focus of the movie. This part of feminism doesn’t aim to the downfall of men but to changes towards equality which is just what the movie represents. The world needs to change peacefully and everyone needs to have the same opportunities (Stokes, 2023). As we move on with the movie, Barbie visits the United States in a quest for her owner where she first experiences verbal harassment (cat-calling) as well as sexual too. Barbie understands that things are pretty different from her world, she sees men handling jobs that in our world are considered manly, such as construction, and for the first time in her existence she deals with the “perfect woman” standards she has set. She finds out how she projects the girls’ insecurities and how capitalistic she’s turned out to be. Devastated, Barbie is taken to Mattel’s head office in which she’s surprised by the fact that it is led solely by men. Humorously but yet disturbingly it is stated how these grown men try to impose their own beliefs to young girls.

At the same time, naïve Ken decides to wander on his own and he’s surprised by what he sees. A world where men “rule”. Discovering the idea of patriarchy through the eyes of Ken, the movie tries to pass the naïve spirit of men who believe in that. This is portrayed by how Ken seeks for a job with the only qualification that he’s a man. As his paleolithic ideas are impracticable in the real world, he decides to return to Barbieland and impose them there.

Image source: independent.co.uk

The ideas of Ken about patriarchy are lightheartedly screened, the viewer sees the complete brainwash over the Barbies and how the male ideology has changed them into what we say “written by men”. They start wearing revealing clothes, submit to the Kens and appear as feckless and stupid beings. The movie manages to showcase the misogynistic points of views that the Kens hold, as they diminish the uniqueness of each woman and transform them into a one-kind, weak-willed person. Barbie then takes action and brings the powerful feminine personalities back, with an empowering feministic speech that underlines the everyday difficulties of womanhood. Trying to get their power back, the Barbies follow the manly stereotypes in order to regain their place. Noteworthy are the phrases, “men love desperate and confused women” as well as, “men love when they think you admire them”, which actually jokingly highlights the male need for attention and validation. As the Barbies get their power back, peace is restored as well as equality, which is the main lead of the movie.

Image of a negative critic in a Barbie banner. image source: mikropragmata.lifo.gr

But the blockbuster has also gained negative reactions. Many men decided to boycott the movie, reacting to the fact that it preaches about womanhood and that includes the LGBTQ+ community. But while they fill the sites with negative critics, the movie’s marketing team stands one step ahead, making the worst ones into banners (ΚΑΒΑΤΖΙΚΛΗΣ, 2023). The fact is that it has raised so much backlash which reveals how much subversive the movie actually is.

The Barbie movie is an empowering movie that broaches the everyday struggles and the stereotypes women are often called to meet. It is wry and humorous while underlining some very important issues that a modern woman goes through. As Barbie is the symbol of youth and femininity for younger girls, it is only inspiring to see how well it embraces girlhood and the importance of inclusivity and motherhood as well, as a hair-rising phrase in the movie states, “Mothers stand still so their daughters can move on and see how far they’ve gone”.

  • Stokes, J. (2023, July 25). Life in Plastic, it’s Fantastic? How ‘Barbie’ Reimagines a Childhood Icon Through a Feminist Lens. au.variety.com. Available here
  • KΑΒΑΤΖΙΚΛΗΣ, Δ. (2023, Jul25). Πήραν κακές κριτικές εξαγριωμένων αντρών για την Μπάρμπι και τις έβαλαν στην αφίσα. mikropragmata.lifo.gr. Available here



Amalia Theocharidou, Editor-in-Chief
Amalia Theocharidou, Editor-in-Chief
Born in 2003, she is an undergraduate student in the department of International and European relations in the university of Piraeus. She likes to travel and get to know new cultures and environments. She loved writing since she was young which is what inspired her to start publishing articles.