Barbie Life Lessons
When I stepped into the cinema last weekend to catch Barbie, I imagined it would be another lighthearted bimbotic chick flick. You know, one of those that makes you feel good and then once you leave the theatre, you forget about it.
Well, I was dead wrong. It turned out to be a tear-jerking movie that tackles topics such as life, feminism, toxic masculinity, gender issues, and motherhood. And even after the credits finished rolling, the movie had me thinking deeper about the issues addressed.
While I can’t emphasise enough how wholesome the movie is, below are the lessons I learned, reminding everyone that we are the main characters in our life ‒ and we are “Kenough”.
Warning: Spoilers for Barbie ahead, proceed at your own risk if you’ve yet to watch the movie!
1. You can be anything you want to
Fun fact: although Mattel was once criticised for creating Barbie with unrealistic body proportions, they have been doing a great job at being inclusive.
By coming up with a multitude of Barbie variations that were featured in the movie, such as President Barbie, Lawyer Barbie, and a Nobel Prize Winner Barbie, Mattel inspires young girls to build their dreams, and deliver the message that they can be anything that they want. It’s 2023, and females don’t have to stick to stereotypical jobs, such as being a housewife or mother anymore.
P.S.: Barbie sleeps on a shell-shaped bed, literally emphasising the saying that goes: “The world is your oyster.”
2. Women go through different kinds of struggles every day
Barbie about to get groped by the man behind her
From getting catcalls to warding off perverts in public, women experience all sorts of struggles every day. When Barbie stepped into the Real World with Ken, she was ogled by onlookers, and even groped by a stranger out of the blue. Urgh. On the other hand, Ken was empowered by the way people respected him.
The difference in treatment between Barbie and Ken goes without saying that women tend to get the short end of the stick. Hopefully, through Barbie, more people will understand and sympathise with the hardships that women go through.
3. Life will never be perfect, but your mindset can make it better
Get this ‒ life will never be perfect. If this sounds like a harsh reality slap, well, it is true. However, it doesn’t mean that we should all go into despair, and wait for the end of our days.
Throughout the movie, Barbie teaches us that we often underestimate our potential and self-worth, and we become obsessed with trying to be “perfect”. We invest so much effort into attaining this elusive state of “perfection,” believing it is the key to achieving the success and happiness we dream of. Yet, the whole idea of being “perfect” is actually a construct in our minds.
Instead of struggling to lead the “perfect” life, we can simply change our mindset and embrace the present, just like how Gloria told Barbie, “The Real World is not perfect, but you inspire me.”
4. Mothers always sacrifice for their children
Many times, we take our mothers for granted, and we don’t show enough appreciation for them. One scene that struck me hard was when Gloria told Sasha that she “never got to do anything” because of work and family commitments.
Mothers sacrifice their free time and social life to provide for the best for their children, and after doing so, they “stand still so [their] daughters can look back to see how far they have come”.
BRB, texting my mum “I love you” right now.
5. It is okay to cry out your feelings
In Barbie Land, the only emotion that the Barbies and Kens are used to is joy, so crying was a brand new concept to them. When Barbie tries to comfort Ken, she tells him, “I cry too. It’s actually kind of amazing”.
The short and sweet sentiment actually sends a message to those who think crying is a sign of weakness. Instead, it just means that you acknowledge your feelings, and there is nothing wrong with expressing your emotions through crying.
6. Being old is a gift
In the movie, Barbie is portrayed as a stereotypical Barbie, which means she has the “perfect” figure, hair, smile, and even feet arches. Life is literally fantastic for her.
However, when she meets an old lady for the first time in the Real World, she can’t help but break into tears and tell her that “she is beautiful”. Despite having wrinkles and a head full of white hair, the old lady catches the attention of Barbie, who finds the concept of ageing so beautiful and intriguing.
NGL, most of us freak out when we see the slightest wrinkle form on our face, and we try our best to hide them with anti-ageing skincare just to look younger. But at the end of the day, being old is a gift and a rite of passage in life. The only thing we can do is embrace it with grace.
7. A person shouldn’t be restricted by society’s standards
According to Dictonary.com, extraordinary refers to something or someone that is exceptional in character. While most of us are pressured by society to lead an extraordinary life, Barbie taught us that there is no shame in wanting to be ordinary. Think about when our traditional families expect us to do them proud by pursuing “respectable” occupations like doctors and lawyers.
During the scene when Gloria proposed to the CEO of Mattel to create an Ordinary Barbie, she explained that everyone should be free to do what they want, regardless of society’s “standards”. Chances are, her speech will resonate with many people because we can all relate to moments when we almost lose ourselves in our journey of becoming “extraordinary”.
8. Men have the tendency to control and rely on women
Unlike most of the audience who burst out laughing when Ken affirmed himself by saying that he is “Kenough”, I took a while to truly understand what the newly-coined term meant.
Considering how Ken’s purpose in Barbie Land was to serve Barbie, he never had the chance to search for his calling. So, when Ken realises that he doesn’t need anyone in his life for it to be meaningful, he tells himself that he is “Kenough”, or in order words, enough.
Before this enlightenment, Ken tried to take over Barbie Land, and enjoyed the success and newfound respect of Barbies who became “servants” of Kens. It is a clear-cut example of how men have the tendency to rely on women to feel successful and respected because they are considered “superior”.
However, for men who find pleasure in such behaviours, it is time to snap out of their bubble, and reconsider who they really are without women in their life.
9. Society has set ridiculous standards for women
Another highlight of the movie was no doubt the powerful scene when Gloria pointed out the ridiculous standards that society has set for women.
She told Barbie that “it’s literally impossible to be a woman” and continued her speech with examples, such as “You have to be thin, but not too thin,” and “You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean”. I could go on, but you get the gist ‒ it is as if everything that woman does is wrong.
10. Patriarchy still exists in many parts of the world
As much as I hate to admit it, the Real World in Barbie is pretty much a reflection of our world today. The board of directors in Mattel only had males, and their secretary was a female, aka Gloria. It seems as if important and life-changing decisions are mostly made by men, and women barely have any say in them.
While I can’t speak on behalf of every company and organisation, there’s no denying that women are still struggling with gender inequality in many aspects, such as job opportunities and decision-making. Despite the positive changes in society, the shift is slow, and women are still trying their best to eliminate these differences.
These Barbie Life Lessons Show That Going Through Ups & Downs Is A Part Of Life
Some people might think that Barbie is “just a movie,” but to me and many others out there who felt something in our hearts after leaving the cinema, our lives definitely changed for the better. Humans are meant to live without being judged and having limitations, and it is through the ups and downs that allow us to live to the fullest.