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America Ferrera’s Monologue in Barbie Made Me Tear Up; Let’s Talk About It

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

As Barbie seemingly takes over the world and there is pink everywhere we go, it is easy to get lost in all the noise surrounding Greta Gerwig’s latest film. Even traveling abroad, Barbie was all I saw from mall store windows to city billboards to even a wedding venue. Everyone’s got something to say about Barbie, whether it be raving reviews or renouncing Tweets (I’m talking about you, Ted Cruz.)

While the film makes us question, and hopefully protest, the patriarchal norms and gender stereotypes that still exist, we can look deeper into what being a woman means in today’s society through America Ferrera’s character, Gloria. A Mattel employee, Gloria envisions a different version of Barbie, one that has never seen the shelves of any store. A true Barbie, based on the reality of being a woman. A Barbie that doesn’t sugarcoat, she experiences depression, struggle, and doesn’t always look her best. Of course, in the movie, this is what provoked Barbie’s adventure to the real world to find out that Barbie did not, in fact, solve all the world’s problems.

As the plot develops, Gloria gives her famous monologue describing what it means to be a woman. From contradiction to straight-up hypocrisy, we see how truly impossible it is to simply exist according to these standards:

“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.”

Barbie, 2023

I was stunned. Tears brimming in my eyes, I found every word true. There truly is no way to be this “ideal” woman. There is no way to never offend anyone, to please everyone, and to be happy while trying. Ultimately, we would all be left utterly defeated. 

It empowered me realizing that as women we are called to our own unique path in life. It will not look like anyone else’s, and it certainly won’t look like the requirements America Ferrera’s character outlines. It also won’t please everyone, which I’m sure we’ve already realized. But, if we know what we are called to, and actively pursue it, what others think won’t matter. We can have confidence that our goals and our actions to achieve them will put us in a better place in life.

As a woman, I know I’m tired of tying myself into knots so that others will like me. Gloria does a beautiful job at both calling out the impossible expectations for women while inspiring women to live as who they were always meant to be.

Tatiana Cleffi is a writer for the Her Campus chapter at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP,) who enjoys writing about her personal experiences, particularly in regards to her Latin culture. She is a senior nursing student who is eager to graduate in December 2023. Tatiana is passionate about bridging the language gap in the healthcare setting. She studied medical Spanish abroad to become better equipped to provide nursing care to a diverse range of patients. In her free time, Tatiana enjoys visiting her husband in Costa Rica, going to the beach, singing on the worship team at her church, and eating pumpkin pie.