When the buzz about the Barbie movie started earlier this year I was like “whatever”—and whatever in a very judgmental tone.
I don’t recall playing with Barbie, though one of my best friends insists we did.
My image of Barbie (pre-seeing the movie) was essentially a farce on what a woman was supposed to look like. I later believed Barbie and Ken were some weird fictionalized images of what women and men are supposed to look like. I was never going to have Barbie’s physical proportions.
In the periphery I knew other Barbies came out through the years, but I wasn’t really knowing of all the transformations. Barbie could have nearly every job imaginable—even U.S. president. (That’s how I would like fiction to become reality.) Barbie had different proportions, skin tone and hair color.
As Barbie evolved, my image of her didn’t because the doll just wasn’t part of my life or those around me. I guess I should have been paying better attention.
But because I wasn’t paying attention, my thoughts of a movie idolizing some warped sense of women and a doll that I don’t remember playing with seemed like a waste of my time and money.
Then I started reading reviews. I saw trailers. Then I read the monologue by America Ferrera who plays Gloria. That clinched it for me. I was convinced this was a movie I wanted to see.
It’s men who should be seeing it, especially by the reaction of the guy in the row in front of us. He was with a woman. He didn’t get it. Maybe it felt like a mirror was on the screen and that’s why he was so uncomfortable.
Go see it. It’s powerful and it’s fun.
Here is that monologue:
It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are 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. And you can never say you want to be 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 love being a 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 that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a 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 always 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 or 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 doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.