We all know what we were doing the day that the Barbie movie was announced. With Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling taking on the leading roles of the beloved dolls in the film, this movie was EVERYWHERE. From trends to where netizens would be their own kind of Barbie, to moments of the press tour going viral everywhere, there was nothing that could stop the hype and momentum that this movie was bringing.
And it followed through on release day. Grossing over $1 billion worldwide, becoming Warner Bros’ biggest domestic box office hit, the Barbie movie has been smashing records left and right. It also made director Greta Gerwig the first and only female director to have a movie make over $1 billion in the box office. Needless to say, the Barbie movie has been not only the blockbuster of the summer, but a good contender for the movie of the year!
It’s been a staple of everyone’s summer to dress up for the Barbie movie, and this doesn’t exclude my own personal experience over the summer as well. Dressing up in pink and meeting with friends to watch the Barbie movie was probably one of the most memorable parts of my 2023 summer. But it wasn’t just dressing up in pink and posing as a doll in front of the posters. I left the theatre with many thoughts regarding the movie’s message and what it’s trying to convey.
From this point on, there will be spoilers on the movie, in case you haven’t watched it!
One of the biggest plot points of the movie involves Barbie and Ken leaving Barbieland, a world in which all the Barbies are the leaders, with Kens as their right hand men, so to speak, to go into the “real world,” AKA our world. But the biggest difference between Barbieland and the real world is that while Barbieland mainly gives the Barbies the power, the real world is very much heavy on the patriarchy. Ken seeing this, after having always been cast aside by Barbie, decides he loves the idea of a patriarchy and takes over Barbieland with his fellow Kens, leaving Barbie to have to fix everything with her newly found human friends and her fellow Barbies, while also dealing with her own existential crisis of not being the perfect woman that she was always supposed to be for her human to play with.
Having originally seen the plot unfold at first, I thought it would merely be a movie about a successful regaining of power in Barbieland to show Barbie’s power and presence. But the resolution of the Barbieland takeover, and the climax of the movie were the two parts of the movie that left me in awe. When Barbie finally talks to Ken about the reason that he decided to take over Barbieland, Ken is brave enough to show Barbie the very profound and emotional insecurity of him being worried of not living up to Barbie, and him having no purpose apart from being Barbie’s. This is when Barbie affirms to Ken that he is not limited to being at Barbie’s side, and that he is allowed to be whoever he wants.
And upon giving this realization to Ken, Barbie herself, along with the help of the creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler, also helps Barbie realize that she can be her own self. This is visually shown in a beautiful way, through a montage of different stages of a woman’s life, and we also have Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” as a soundtrack for this part.
And it was at this part that I realized, the Barbie movie is not about abolishing the patriarchy. The Barbie movie has nothing to do with what gender has power. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s about giving everyone the power within themselves to embrace themselves for who they really are. It’s about not being afraid to face the trials and tribulations of life. It’s about being able to live and learn as you go, and not being afraid to stumble, as long as you get back up. Throughout the entire movie, Greta Gerwig masterfully paints a picture of the different events that Barbie has to face in her life, and how everyone around her, be it her human friends or her fellow Kens, discovers their own selves and purposes. In turn, these events help her to discover who she really is. The movie’s marketing of being for everyone, whether you love Barbie or hate her, really shines through, as it shows that everyone is deserving of living their truth. It’s insightful. It’s inspiring. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s, in Ken’s own words, “kenough.”
While the ending of the movie was an absolutely hilarious take on this whole realization (if you know you know!), it’s not to undermine the importance of what Barbie is trying to convey. It’s not only such an important message, but also a celebration of womanhood, and going beyond that, life.
So, to say it simply? Go out and watch the Barbie movie! Go out and enjoy your life and love yourself! Maybe you’ll have your self reflections and realize that you are, in fact, kenough.
Bentonville West High School