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What The “Barbie” Movie Means to Me

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 TCU chapter.

Okay, y’all. If you know me, you know I love Barbie. Barbie was that girl to me when I was a kid. She was everything I aspired to be and more. I had at least five Barbie birthday party themes when I was little. I rewatched all of the Barbie movies extensively. (My personal favorite was Barbie‘s Fashion Fairytale where she goes to Paris.) On my first day of school, I donned a 50s-style haircut and a crooked smile while proudly holding my Barbie purse. I had almost all the Barbie dolls you could think of (I loved Toy Story Barbie and Peaches’N’ Cream Barbie). Barbie Girl by Aqua was my favorite song in junior high and definitely my favorite song to roller skate to.

So yeah, you could say I was a Barbie girl. Barbie meant so much to me when I was a little girl. She meant beauty and femininity. Barbie accomplished all of her dreams and goals and treated everyone with kindness throughout the process. When I played with my Barbies, I could do anything that I wanted to. If I had a bad day when I was a little kid, I would play with my Barbies and forget about my bad day. Barbie meant that you could be anything you wanted to be. It was a girl’s world after all!

When I heard there was going to be a live-action Barbie movie, I was thrilled. I loved Barbie and the idea of a live-action Barbie movie was awesome. Even as “grown-ups”, my sister and I LOVED watching Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse on Netflix. When I found out Margot Robbie was cast as Barbie, I was ecstatic. I was even more excited when it was announced that Ryan Gosling was cast as Ken; he brings ALL the Kenergy to the table. The idea of a live-action Barbie movie as an adult just sounded so fun and nostalgic. I was envisioning a similar movie to Life Size starring Tyra Banks and Lindsay Lohan (if you know, you know). 

I don’t think I have ever been so excited for a movie’s release than Barbie. I watched all the trailers adoringly and sent my best friend every single snippet of the movie that was released. I even joked with my friends that I was having dreams about the Barbie movie. I sent my friends clips of Ryan Gosling as Ken and said “See!! I told you he was the perfect cast for Ken!” When the movie was FINALLY released in theaters, I drove back to my hometown to see it with my best friend from back home. I was so excited for the Barbie movie, I was dressed in a pink babydoll dress, wore a pink trucker Barbie hat, and wore lots of glitter as well! (I was left with a LOT of teasing from my dad as I left the house; he couldn’t believe that I was dressing up to go see a movie.)

Now, the Barbie movie was definitely not what I expected. I wasn’t expecting the moving to get as deep as it did. I was expecting a quirky Teen Beach Movie kind of film with Barbie and Ken goofing around in the real world. Did I hate the movie and think it was terrible? Absolutely not. Did I love it? Of course, I did! It’s ranked among my favorite movies alongside Grease, The Little Mermaid, 50 First Dates, and Letters to Juliet. Did I cry at the end? Maybe…

In the simplest words, Barbie was a love letter to women. It celebrated women and really embraced that we can do whatever we want in this world. Will it be easy? No. And that wasn’t the point of Barbie. Women can face many hardships and struggles, but as women, you are beautiful, powerful, and can achieve anything you want to in this life. If you want to be a mother, you can. If you want to be a teacher, you can. If you want to be on the Supreme Court, you can. If you want to be an award-winning physicist, you can. If you want to be just Barbie, you can be. Either way, you are seen and celebrated. I definitely teared up at the montage of real-life women, displaying multiple women through various stages of life: birthdays, weddings, graduations, motherhood, and even beautiful, simple things like going bowling or playing with firecrackers outside. I won’t lie, tears came out of my eyes while I watched the montage and Billie Eilish’s What Was I Made For played.

During this montage of womanhood in Barbie, there was one distinct woman that came to my mind: my grandmother. My grandmother has had a hard life. She didn’t finish school and got married very young as well. She has worked tirelessly as a janitor her whole life to provide for her family. According to my aunt, she worked endless hours and came home tired as a bone, but never uttered a word of complaint. She always thought of others and ensured that everyone else was taken care of. I can still remember her getting up at 4:30 AM for work, never complaining, and ensuring that I was taken care of before she left for work. When my family needed someone, she was there. When I needed somewhere to stay, she was there. When we needed help, she was there. 

Most recently, she lost her oldest son, my dear uncle. Seeing her go through that kind of pain was almost unbearable. I can’t think of anyone more selfless or pure than my grandma, and it all seems so unfair. My grandma was robbed of many things in this life but there is nothing that brings her more joy than her family. The smile when she sees her grandkids is priceless. Even though her children are grown now, she still attends to my dad and their aunt like they are young. 

There are so many amazing things about my grandmother. The smile on her face when she holds a baby. The fact that she will work tirelessly to help her family. Even at her age, she still goes out and delivers food for people in need (she has never missed a date). As a child, I remember how excited she was for me to come over and spend the night. She would make the most amazing tortillas (of course, with a Coca-Cola!) and would play Selena and put on Care Bears for me and my cousin. I still have pictures of her beaming when she saw me dressed up as Snow White for Halloween. During the hardest times of my life, my grandma was there. I will never forget the day she cried with me when I was accepted into TCU, my dream school. I remember her crying with me when I left for the summer to intern at the Ronald McDonald House in Florida. I remember her calling me panicked, begging me to stay safe when I left to go to Italy. I remember her flying all the way to Missouri to see me and my siblings and she watched me play in my tennis tournament. I remember her smile when I surprised her over the summer and drove home from college without telling anyone. The montage in the Barbie movie celebrated women just like my grandmother.

As the President of Her Campus at TCU, there is nothing I am more passionate about than female empowerment. I think people can often forget that about me. When I lead Her Campus and see the incredible women in our chapter, I am in awe. When I read the amazing articles that our members write, I am in awe. When I see what the women in our chapter accomplish, I’m in awe. Every day, I am amazed at the women in our chapter. Her Campus means so much to me; how beautiful we are, what we can accomplish, and we can achieve anything that we put our minds to. The Barbie movie reminded me of that.

One of the most memorable scenes from the Barbie movie is when Margot Robbie’s Barbie is sitting on the bench in the real world, next to an elderly lady. She looks at the elderly lady for a moment and then says “You’re so beautiful.” The old lady smiles at her and then says “I know it.” As women, we often forget to celebrate ourselves and our worth, at any stage of our life.

Truthfully, one of the things about the Barbie movie that had the biggest impact on me wasn’t even in the actual movie itself. It was in the theaters. When I looked around the theater, I saw women, of all ages, ranging from little girls to elderly women, dressed in pink or something Barbie-themed. It was almost kind of empowering. When we were getting ready to leave the theater, one of my best friends, Jaycee turned to me and said “Marena, you know what’s kind of cool? All the little girls in this room will grow up playing with Barbies and all of the old ladies in this room have probably played with Barbies when they were growing up.” That statement definitely stayed with me.

To some people, Barbie was just some silly pink movie about a doll. Some people thought Barbie was terrible and not the “Barbie” that they grew up with. Some just simply liked the movie. I didn’t quite see Barbie that way. To me, Barbie was a love letter to women and reminded me of all the amazing women in my life and the women who are out there changing the world. When I watched Barbie, I was reminded of the women in my life: my grandmother, the women in Her Campus, and the survivors of trafficking that I work with. I was reminded of how incredible women are, and how much we have overcome, both in our lives and throughout history. Life can be hard and there are a lot of unexpected moments. Recently, I have found myself feeling very insecure, overworked, and overwhelmed. The Barbie movie was a good reminder that I am accomplished and I can do anything I set my mind to, regardless of how hard it might seem, and that there are so many women out there who are experiencing the same things that I am.

So, the Barbie movie definitely surprised me. It reminded me of a lot of things that are important in my life. I loved how funny the movie was and the I’m Just Ken montage. Ryan Gosling as Ken was incredible. I didn’t know how much I needed Michael Cera as Allan until I watched Barbie. I loved how pink the movie was (I am still aspiring to make my room Barbie pink) and the soundtrack of the movie is INCREDIBLE. The movie brought back a lot of nostalgia (this summer has been really full of nostalgia with Barbie, The Little Mermaid, and the release of Speak Now by Taylor Swift). Amidst the entire movie and the goofiness of the Kens and Weird Barbie, it reminded me of how valuable we are as women and how often we can forget our worth amidst the craziness of the world.

What Barbie meant to me was the empowerment of women everywhere, at all stages of life. No matter where you are, no matter what you look like, or what path you take in life, you are celebrated and worthy. Whether you are a little girl, playing with Barbies for the first time, or a grandmother watching her granddaughter play with Barbies and reminiscing on the past, you are celebrated. Barbie means that you can do anything you want to do in your life, and you are not defined by what you do in your life. 

To some, Barbie is just some blonde doll with a pink Corvette for little girls, but Barbie means the world is your oyster and you can accomplish anything you want to in your life. If you want to be Doctor Barbie, Marine Biologist Barbie, Pizza Making Barbie, Mermaid Barbie, Mom Barbie, or Lawyer Barbie, you can be. In a world that can often be harsh on women with many barriers, Barbie celebrates you and creates a world where you can make your dreams come true. And that is why I’m going to collect Barbies to one day give to my future daughter.

So, yes, I will definitely be rewatching Barbie and I will continue to save Barbie dolls for my future daughter. 

Marena Mendez is a rising senior at Texas Christian University and the President of Her Campus at TCU. She is a Youth Advocacy and Child Development major with specializations in Art Education and Communication studies. Marena is also the President of Frogs 4 Children, the Director of Hospitality for TCU Dance Marathon, and a Marketing Intern for Make A Wish. If she's not on campus, she's probably watching "Community", at Target, or tearing it up at Billy Bob's!