"Now FEEL." A Barbie Movie Review
As I sat down with my daughter in the matinee seats, I reflected on how rarely we go to the theater to enjoy a film. In fact, when was the last time I was in these particular theater seats? Chuckling as the recollection came forth that it was when this rapidly growing, nearly six year old beside me was in my belly. The previous feature that brought me to the theater was Wonder Woman.
Six years later I was excited to partake in an incredibly different type of feminine empowerment. With all the hype surrounding this movie I was curious how it would make me feel.
And oh, did it make me feel!
On three separate occasions, I found myself dabbing the tears that unexpectedly sprung from my eyes. This candy colored film tackled heavy topics head on... the most meaningful and obvious being the role of women within our society. I was well aware that my daughter may not fully understand the scope of this film, which has now broken the record for highest grossing film by a female director, but I knew the meaning behind it was powerful. Our daughter loves playing with Barbies, taking them on adventures and expressing her creativity and connection through their play. As mentioned in the film's opening, playing with these grown woman dolls gives young children the opportunity to imagine themselves as any role, career, or pursuit they desire.
Barbie was created to be anything she wanted to be. She could have dream careers, a dream house, and a life all her own at a time when women weren't even allowed to own credit cards. While many of the patriarchal challenges were made lighthearted and humorous in the movie (such as construction worker catcalling), the most meaningful to me and many others was a speech from Gloria to Barbie's character that drew the audience in with both tears and cheers.
"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."
Looking down at my daughter, I was reminded of the world in which I dream for all of our daughters and sons. A place where woman leaders and idea generators are respected and choices honored beyond just an imaginary place of Barbieland. Where our bodies are our own, not just an object for male enjoyment, servitude, or procreation. Where kindness and joy abound and we're encouraged to truly feel what it means to be human.