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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

Barbie, the second most powerful blonde woman after Taylor Swift, is taking the world by storm. Her movie, which premiered on July 21st, has divided this country further, something I didn’t know was possible. You’re either currently sporting hot-pink bell bottoms with a new-found love of girlhood, or you’re taking a stand against the beloved character and lighting plastic dolls on fire! Refer to Ben Shapiro for more on that.

To those who prefer lighter fluid over pink denim, I urge you to watch again. Open your mind along with your heart and feel. The plight of women, the disease that is patriarchy, cannot be defeated without compassion. The recurring complaint is that this movie was misandristic or ‘anti-men’. I find it a bit comical that a movie that reverses the gender roles of our country is met with such outcry for the Ken’s who were treated with such disrespect, with such a lack of empathy. But instead of recognizing how this intentionally resembles the female experience, men have once again found a way to make our pain their own. Rather than recognizing that what the Kens go through is actually just a drop in the bucket for most women, they have twisted it to make us the villains. I think we can all agree that the Kens didn’t have it near as bad in Barbie Land as we have it here in America. Were the Kens abused, cat-called, or generally unsafe in Barbie Land? No. Are women all of those things and more in America? Yes

While there will always be those who find a way to fault women, I would say that the vast majority of those who saw the film adored it. They left having found a new meaning of what it is to be a woman, to play with Barbies, and to grow up in a patriarchal society. Whether you walked out of the theater sobbing over America Ferrera’s speech or giggling over the antics of the Kens, you at least left feeling somehow changed by the spirit of Barbie. I personally found myself in the bathroom with my two friends, crying in each other’s arms, unable to articulate what we were feeling, but knowing we were feeling it together. And that just made it all the better. The many pains of being a woman were showcased throughout the film, but also the unlimited joy you have access to just by being a girl. 

Being a woman in modern-day America, or anywhere in the world, is no small feat. The statistics alone speak to how dangerous it is, especially for our Transgender friends. Ferrera’s speech starts with, “It is literally impossible to be a woman.” There is no right way, there is no guarantee of safety, and yes, everything is our fault. Oftentimes, it feels like we as girls had to grow up so much sooner than the boys in our lives. I’ve always felt older than I am, and for a while, I loved my maturity. But after watching Barbie it made me mourn for my girlhood. For the days when I refused to wear anything but dresses, never brushed my hair, and never worried too much about what others thought of me. Far too soon do we put down our dolls. Far too soon do we start to worry about our bodies, our clothes, our beauty. Far too soon, we are introduced to the world as it really is: run by men. A hard, but necessary pill to swallow. I only wish we didn’t have to choke it down so young. 

But to stop being so negative, I want to hopefully ease your anxious mind by leaving you with this: you are not alone. The universal experience of being a woman is all around us, and if you’re ever feeling like the weight of this messed up world is breaking your spirit, look for the signs of sisterhood, and feel the spirit of Barbie. Look for the gaggle of young women this Halloween all dressed in pink, taking on the role of Barbie for the night. Or even the group of guys whose shirts are proudly proclaiming that they are ‘Kenough’.

Because of Barbie, I’m even more aware of the small things that unite us. The things that warm my heart every time I see them. Free tampons in a public restroom, a spare hair tie on your wrist that you didn’t buy for yourself, a small pack of girls walking to the bathroom together, the urge to share your new lip gloss with your best friend, or even just a smile given to you from a random girl you pass on the street. Whatever it is, hold on to these moments, and remind yourself that even when you feel alone, you’ll always have Barbie.

Randi Heth

Illinois State '25

Hey! My name is Randi and I'm a Junior at Illinois State, majoring in Secondary English Education. In my spare time, I like to read romance novels, obsess over Harry Styles, and spend time with the people I love. Follow me on Instagram @ran.della25