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Why the Sudden Wave of Pink? Looking Back On the Barbie Movie

“Thanks to Barbie, all problems of feminism have been solved,” — Narrator (Helen Mirren).
Barbie was released in theaters on July 21, 2023. Credit: Warner Bros.

Come along with Barbie as she discovers that the Real World, with all of its problems, is extremely different from her perfect, pink, female-centric Barbieland. 

Barbie was released in theaters on July 21, 2023, and shortly became the largest domestic-grossing movie in 100 years of Warner Bros history. Directed by Greta Gerwig, this movie was critically acclaimed and praised by viewers.

Greta Gerwig is the director of several movies: Nights and Weekends, Lady Bird, Little Women, and now Barbie. All of her previous movies have a common feminist theme, and have very strong female characters; Barbie is just that.

This movie is cast with outstanding actors, including Margot Robbie (Barbie) and Ryan Gosling (Ken). These actors convey humor, emotion, and empathy. 

“It was Hilarious,” says CUBE director Nick Lacy. “At one point if I had had a mouthful of water I would have spit it out. I was laughing out loud in the theater.” 

The Barbie doll was created in 1959 by businesswoman Ruth Handler and manufactured by American toy company Mattel. Barbie was created to represent all the things that women could be: a doctor, an Olympian, an astronaut, and even President. In 1967 Mattel came out with the first Barbie of color, and now there are Barbies from all over the world. 

Although created with good intentions, Barbie was promptly criticized for being “too perfect.” Her physique was unrealistic, and many saw her as a symbol of  consumerism.

This movie highlights two worlds, Barbieland and The Real World. Barbieland is an ideal world, where life is perfect, full of smiles and tanned faces, whereas The Real World is… well, the real world.

Barbie takes watchers into Barbieland where all the jobs are fulfilled by women who are flawless, from perfectly done hair all the way down to pedicured feet in high heels. While women rule, Kens are merely an “accessory” who stand around on the beach, waiting to be noticed by Barbies. “Barbie has a great day every day,” the narrator says.  “But Ken only has a great day if Barbie looks at him.”

When Barbie travels into the Real World, she is shocked at how different it is from Barbieland. In Barbieland, all Barbies think that because of their creation there is no misogyny, and that women are also dominant in the Real World. Barbie realizes that men are actually in power: all the presidents and the majority of the supreme court judges are male, and all jobs are also occupied by men. This contrast between the two lands highlights misogynist problems in our current society.

In a clever and funny way, Barbie empowers women by showing their contributions in Barbieland while also focusing on the silliness of the outdated concepts of patriarchy in the Real World. “When I found out the patriarchy wasn’t about horses,” says Ken, “I lost interest anyway.”This movie can reach a wide range of audiences, as it is entertaining but also has great meaning. “I loved it!” says Cece Miller (‘26). “I thought it was a great representation of the patriarchy and what’s wrong with society, but at a level that was still fun and enjoyable for people who don’t understand, such as like five year olds.”

Barbie will continue to impact people because it is amusing, and lays out concepts and themes that we see in our society. Here at Skyline, we honored Barbie by having a Barbie and Ken spirit day. Many people wore fantastic, memorable outfits, and for halloween Barbie and Ken costumes were extremely popular. 

If you played with Barbies (and Kens) when you were younger, and you want some of that pink nostalgia back into your life along with a good laugh, then this movie is a great choice.

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About the Contributor
Adira Maze, Section Editor

Adira Maze ('26) is a Book Review editor. In her free time, you can find her hanging out with friends, playing soccer, and listening to music