The Roaring Times

The Student Newspaper of John H. Pitman High School.

The Roaring Times

The Roaring Times

Femininity In the Barbie Movie

Femininity In the Barbie Movie

Barbie and Ken live in a world where the women run everything and make all the decisions and there are never any problems. Barbie’s life is perfect, and Ken is “just Ken.” Barbie begins to have human emotions and feel the beginnings of an existential crisis. Her and Ken travel to the real world where they see how dark it can be and how women are treated like the polar opposite. Together they go on a journey of self discovery and figure out who they are outside of being the perfect Barbie and Ken. 

In the Barbie world, they truly believe they are doing everything to empower women. So when she finally gets exposed to the real world, she is immediately faced with rejection from the girls she thought she was helping. The story brings attention to the real impacts of having these “perfect” dolls growing up and what it can do to a little girl’s self esteem. 

The dynamic between a young girl who holds resentment against femininity and her mom who loves Barbie and embraces it, is something a lot of mothers and daughters can relate to. They come very far throughout the movie from feeling so much separation from each other, to the daughter fully appreciating her mom’s wisdom and everything she has been through as a woman. The daughter learns how to embrace her femininity and realizes that the things that make you feminine do not make you weak, and are strengths that the world needs. Barbie learns how to become her own individual self outside of her role of being “perfect” and finds her own interests while still finding power in the things that make her feminine. 

Although many feminist commentaries often portray men as the villains of the story, there are no real villains in this movie. The movie goes into the idea that the patriarchy is not healthy on either side for women or men. When Ken travels to the real world, seeing the power in holding your identity to your status, the women you have, and other men in power was very appealing when he didn’t have a sense of his own identity and what he had to offer as a person. He takes what he learned from the patriarchy and applies it to Barbie Land as a way of compensating for the lack of attention he receives from Barbie due to the fact that she is his only source of validation. 

This film did so much to change the perception of feminism in a positive light. “Empowering” women in many feminist movements has meant abandoning the things that make girls, girls in hopes of being respected more if we assume the roles and traits of men. Empowering women should not mean making women be more like men, it should be finding power in the things that make you feminine. It also should not mean shaming men for their masculinity, but understanding the difference between masculinity and the unhealthy response to a system that does not support men’s mental health. This movie shows both sides of the issue while focusing on a journey of self discovery that both men and women can relate to.