Barbie: Empowering women to be anything they want to be
By Maddy McClelland, Contributor
When it comes to the name “Barbie”, hardly any real introduction is needed. Since 1959, the doll revolutionized the toy industry and continued on to become an international symbol of girlhood. However, controversy surrounded Barbie as she was the only doll at the time to have an adult figure.
As such, the concept of Barbie has been equally sexualized as it has been embraced; and equally as rejected as it has been supported. Yet originally intended as a source of inspiration, Barbie’s purpose was to serve as an example that you can be anything you want to be, even in a world where the odds are stacked against you.
Flash forward to the present, Barbie 2023 exemplifies this concept and more. Highly anticipated, the Barbie film that features Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling commences with an introduction to the doll’s home in Barbieland, where viewers are subjected to the film’s collective concept of “Barbie”.
The notion is that this one, picture-perfect stereotypical version of the doll isn’t actually “Barbie” herself, but that all the women are, and together they share a title that furthermore unifies them, and supports the concept that the way you look has nothing to do with your significance in this world. A refreshing take, that then leads us to the concept that here in Barbieland, all problems are solved. Women have been empowered, and they as the inspirational figures of “Barbie” are responsible for these victories. What a shock it then was for Barbie, when she went to the real world to discover that life as a woman in our modern world is far from perfect… or fair.
For the remainder of the film, Director Greta Gerwig uses Barbie as a lens to explore concepts of patriarchal oppression, personal existentialism experienced by Barbie herself, and girlhood. More impressively, the way in which the film was executed managed to combine these concepts in the perfect way, encompassing so much of the female experience, and therefore resonating strongly with women everywhere.
While so many expected a fun film full of laughs, Gerwig delivered not only that but also a product that seems to have in many ways, healed so much for so many. Hilarious and entertaining, yet heartwarming and inspiring, this modern take on such an iconic figure has certainly helped to reinforce the original importance of Barbie; women are strong, beautiful, and can be absolutely anything they want to be.