The “Barbie” teaser trailer was released while I was doing an eight-week-long group therapy program focused on healing the inner child, so obviously, it felt like divine intervention. The program emphasized a lot of being present in your body and saying “yes” to anything the little girl inside me said she wanted — and she wanted to see that movie.
The opening scene about girls only playing with baby dolls spoke to my soul. Like the little girls, I never enjoyed playing with baby dolls. I had no interest in babies or caring for kids either. I hated babysitting and I never really envisioned myself as a mother.
In my youth, I was a quintessential Barbie girl. I loved the color pink, playing dress-up, shopping, and I saved up my money to buy my own Barbies. When I was in fourth grade, I saved up enough money to buy a Barbie doll with brown hair because I had brown hair. (I played with her longer than any self-respecting junior high-schooler would like to admit publicly.)
She belongs to my sister now, along with the rest of my Barbies. When I decided I was too old to play with dolls, they were retired to her collection. The only Barbies she didn’t inherit from me were my Holiday Barbies.
Every year for Christmas, my parents would give me a Holiday Barbie and a Barbie-themed ornament. I always admired the Holiday Barbie’s huge ball gown because there was nothing I wanted more as a little girl than to wear a ball gown every day. Now they all lie in my parent’s basement in storage because if there’s one thing 80 grand can’t get you at the University of Rochester, it’s on-campus storage space.
Eventually, I stopped getting Holiday Barbies, and my yearly ornaments weren’t Barbies either. I noticed, and it stung. It felt as though my parents were suggesting that I was past the age for Barbies (it wasn’t that deep). In their defense, I was going through puberty in the age of social media, so I very well could have given them that impression. I was literally Sasha, the annoying daughter in the movie. However, I will be expecting a big, fat, hot pink Barbie ornament this year (ahem).
The most healing moment for me was seeing how excited nearly every grown woman was for the movie’s release. Everyone who played with Barbies as a kid reminisced on what the doll meant to them, uniting us through nostalgia. Barbie taught us that we could own houses, cars, pretty clothes, and have a career. Ken was the very first man in our lives who never expected anything from us.
In the post-pandemic world where bodily autonomy is not guaranteed, it’s been kinda depressing to be a woman. Inflation is up, we’re never going to own property, and as America Ferrera says in her now-famous monologue, “It is literally impossible to be a woman.”
The Barbie movie was exactly what we needed as women, ages 18-and-up (I specify the age group because this movie was made for adults and you cannot convince me otherwise).
As women, we’ve been at each other’s throats for far too long because society has convinced us that the only way we will make it out alive is by proving our worth. We’ve been arguing too much about what is appropriate behavior for mothers, wives, daughters, grandmothers, and even celebrities. We have been scrutinized for our looks and actions for centuries and it’s only been amplified in the age of the internet.
But the one true thing about life is that no one makes it out alive — one of the greatest warnings given to Barbie before she decided to be human.
I would like to think that after watching Barbie, every woman is listening to the little girl inside her soul again. I hope that little girl is teaching them how to accept and love who they are.