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You Should Watch “Barbie” With Your Mom

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

I loved dolls and toys growing up. I had a Barbie collection; I loved placing them on my Breyer horses and creating cowgirl tales. My collection was less massive and cool than my friend Savannah’s, constituting buckets and buckets of Barbie dolls and accessories, but I had a good sized collection. Enough to play the stories in my head out onto the off-white carpet in my room. I also am absolutely enamored with the color pink. I have been for the majority of my life. I grew up with a pink room, pink clothes, pink blankets, and pink toys. If it was pink, I wanted it. Until someone told me pink wasn’t cool, only girls with no personality and purpose wore pink. Then, I wore turquoise until I woke up and realized that I didn’t care if pink wasn’t “cool”. I would wear it anyway because it made me happy. Now, I live in a pink world once again. 

So when the “Barbie” movie was announced, I immediately bought tickets. And even better, I visited my childhood friend in Colorado and saw it with her. We took pictures in the theatre’s slightly warped giant Barbie box, wore pink outfits and had a fantastic time. Watching the movie was an experience I had not been expecting. I assumed it would be comedic, and I certainly laughed. I assumed I would see lots of pink and femininity, and again, I got what I was looking for. But as some of you may know if you’ve seen Barbie already, there is so much more to the movie than laughs and femininity. As an adult, watching a character suddenly experience all of the toxicity and misogyny I had been experiencing since I was old enough to speak was both devastating and breathtaking. America Ferrera’s speech to the Barbies about what it meant to be a woman, the inconsistencies, the double standards, and the hypocrisy embedded in our society brought me to tears. And then to hear Ruth’s character utter, “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back and see how far they’ve come,” broke my heart. I was reminded of how society framed motherhood and threw mothers under the bus. Mothers are the villains of stories; they fight with their daughters and could never possibly understand their children. We’ve seen it in countless stories: Mrs. Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice”, Melanie in “Thirteen”, and Doris Mann in “Postcards From the Edge”. Angry, theatrical, hysterical mothers. 

“The older

I get the more I see, the power of that young woman, my mother.”

Sharon olds

I can’t claim to have never fought with my mother. I’ve seen my share of therapists to work through the issues in our relationship; mothers and daughters not getting along is nothing new to me. But watching Gloria, Ferrera’s onscreen character, work to repair her relationship with her daughter, even as her daughter huffed and rolled her eyes in a perfectly rational teenage rebellion, hit me hard.

Their relationship seemed just as dysfunctional as the many mother-daughter fiascos I have seen for years, with one stark difference: Gloria’s point of view. The love she had for her daughter, the memories of them playing together with Barbie when her daughter was young, I couldn’t help but think about my own mother while watching these play out. My mother may have felt the same and remembered how we used to play with my dolls or tea set, while I wore a crazy princess costume. To go from that to a strained teenage relationship must have been exhausting and excruciating. 

So when I got back from Colorado and heard that my mother was interested in seeing “Barbie”, I bought the tickets and went with her. I can’t claim it “fixed” our relationship or that we will never fight again; mothers and daughters fighting seems an unstoppable natural phenomenon. But watching it with her and seeing her reactions to those scenes, I feel closer to her. At the very least, I have a better understanding, if only by a little, of what it might be like to be a mother just trying to do her best in our society.

“We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back and see how far they’ve come.”

Barbie, 2023




She/Her Creative Writing major at NC State University graduating spring of '24. I love talking about the latest TV shows and movies and playing with every stray cat I can find. My goal is to become a high school teacher and positively impact the next generation. I love talking to people and extensively researching niche things like service animals and the history of the color pink because learning things is at least 70% of my personality.