Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has broken the internet as of late. The ads are everywhere, and the movie is the topic of many conversations. Without giving too much away, I wanted to highlight the movie’s important message to society. In a world full of unrealistic beauty standards where “perfection” is impossible, the satirical fiction movie paints a world where everything seems so glamorous and perfect when that is actually not the case.
I watched Barbie in the theater recently. I enjoyed the one-liners and the subtle pop culture references. The biggest takeaway was: this longing for perfection in a world where perfection is impossible and where women are expected to be, act, and look a certain way according to patriarchal society. Now, it can be easy to blame and point figures at the cause of this societal issue, but there is no one cause. There are multiple factors contributing to these unachievable expectations. Additionally, every person faces some degree of adversity in this society (the degree can ultimately vary). I saw the point Gerwig was trying to make. She intentionally used the main character, Barbie, to show that even those who seemingly meet idealized beauty standards have insecurities and problems of their own.
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.
I'm just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don't even know.
This speaks for itself. Gloria says the monologue when talking to Barbie (Margot Robbie) when she is down and doubting herself. Barbie was supposed to represent women and who they can be—Nobel Prize recipients, presidents, doctors. Most of all, the movie is trying to convey that they can be human. The movie and its impactful monologue show the plethora of pressures put on women, emphasizing why women should not try to conform to unrealistic standards. We can be what we dream of being. Your imagination can run wild now, just as it did when you were playing Barbies as a kid.
The University of Texas at Austin
McCombs School of Business | Moody College of Communication
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