Equal parts comedy and social satire, the Barbie movie is much more than just a story about a blonde doll and her dream house.
Spoilers for the Barbie movie ahead.
If you told us that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie would become a reflective body of work about the human self, we might have just believed you. We always knew that the Barbie film would deal with some form of introspection given its narrative on Stereotypical Barbie having an identity crisis, causing her to travel to the real world to fix her flat feet and cellulite.
But Barbie’s journey to perfection proved to be an emotional one as the movie delved into the complex nature of being a woman in today’s world (as seen in America Ferrera’s *chef’s kiss* monologue). More than just about plastic dolls in their plastic world, the Barbie movie was a nearly two-hour exploration of finding your purpose, no doubt leaving many eyes runny with the emotional message. Greta Gerwig, the filmmaker that you are. Here are a few life lessons we took from the campy blockbuster.
THERE’S NOTHING LIKE THE BOND BETWEEN A MOTHER AND HER DAUGHTER
While Margot Robbie’s Barbie is the star of the film, America Ferrera and Ariana Greenblatt’s mother-daughter duo of Gloria and Sasha may just be the MVP of the movie. It is their relationship that proves to be the beating heart of the movie and where we get the poignant reminder of the bond moms and daughters have. As Gloria so graciously puts it, “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back and see how far they have come.” While the two started the film with a fraught relationship, they eventually rekindle the bond that was lost and reestablished just how important of a role moms have in helping their daughters face the world.
THERE’S POWER IN BEING ORDINARY
In Barbieland, every Barbie is depicted as having a special job. From a doctor, president, Supreme Court justice, and more, the Barbies live the dream life. But what this movie shows us is that the end goal of life doesn’t have to be the picture-perfect fantasy. Even Barbie herself realizes that her initial mission to become perfect again was misguided. Society often pressures people into attaining extraordinary lives, which is especially true in Asian households, with some parents deeming their children as failures if they don’t become doctors or lawyers. And there is nothing wrong with wanting more for yourself or aiming for higher goals, but at the same time, there should be no shame in the ordinary.
What makes people unique is not their job title or salary, but who they are as a person. At the end of the day, we will be remembered for how we acted as human beings, not for the titles on our names. Barbie can be anything, and that includes being normal.
YOUR PURPOSE IS NOT TIED TO ONE THING
The finale of the Barbie movie was that emotional gut punch we needed. Stereotypical Barbie is just that, a stereotype of how Barbie is supposed to look and act. For all her life, that is what Barbie thought she was destined for. But her introspection soon led her to see that her life isn’t just all that. She can become so much more. The poignant ending with Barbie holding the hand of her creator brings home the point that our purpose in life isn’t deemed by who we were at birth or where we came from. It’s up to us how we live our lives.
Ruth told Barbie that she didn’t need to ask permission to become human, she just needed to feel. The Barbies and Kens realize by the end that their world shouldn’t be dictated by certain pillars and are free to go beyond what they were made for. And in the same way, life doesn’t have to be set in stone. Your calling is out there, you just have to look for it.
YOU ARE KENOUGH
At the start of the movie, Ken’s purpose is established as being of service to Barbie. If Barbie isn’t there, Ken is nothing. When Barbie and Ken travel to the real world, his exposure to gender imbalance gives him his first taste of being respected as a man, which leads him to the wrong conclusion that men deserve to rule over women. He brings misogyny and patriarchy to Barbieland for the Kens to assert their dominance.
But they soon learn that patriarchy is not the answer to their problems. Ken feels that his life has no meaning without Barbie, but she (and with the help of the best song and dance number in the movie) makes him realize that his calling is out there. Ken has a purpose without Barbie, he just needs to find it on his own. The Kens aren’t meaningless without their Barbies. They are enough for who they are. So, remember that you are Kenough.
Continue Reading: It’s Barbie SZN: Seven Things You Can Do To Live The Barbie Fantasy