3 Things Barbie Got Right

Live WellAuthentic

3 Things Barbie Got Right

As I’m writing this the Oscars have yet to air and my anticipation of Ryan Gosling gracing the stage with “I’m Just Ken” is building inside my chest. All the feelings come rushing back giving validation to my whimsical need to sing along at the top of my lungs with a microphone hairbrush, dancing around my living room: “is my moment finally here, or am I dreamingggggggg”!

This feeling is familiar – it’s the same anticipation I housed inside my chest as our family walked hand-in-hand into the movie theater. Giddy and girlie, ready to experience childhood memories of my favorite dolls that I brought to life all those years ago.

I have watched and rewatched this movie too many times to count. To say I’m a fan is an understatement. Barbie gave us a sense of community that I feel we have been missing for so long. And it did so in the most organic way.

What the Barbie movie delivered was not what we were expecting; not what I was expecting. The movie was authentic to its core and touched on sensitive topics with such ease that I was in awe listening to the audience reactions around me. Women, men, teens and children agreeing, crying, laughing, and clapping at everything the screenplay threw our way. It made me reflect on my own life as a woman and wonder -- how many women around me had the same experiences and feelings I did?

By the sound of the audience, almost every single one.


1. Barbie taught us it’s ok to feel alive again

I reflect back to movie premiers throughout my life. You know the ones – the entire Harry Potter series with its midnight movie releases, Star Wars anything, and the many Marvel masterpieces. I can feel the excitement I had at those times - dressing up as my favorite characters and bringing novelty items to the theater to feel a connection to the characters and story. These moments flood my memory bank with happiness, joy and belonging – something I feel like was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Barbie brought these feelings back, and then some.

In its own way, the sentiment of the movie reminded us that it’s okay to let your inner child out and to scream “I HAD THAT OUTFIT!” in a room full of strangers as outfits floated on screen, my daughter giggling with embarrassment at my outbursts. The items were in a still frame just long enough for those core memories to come front and center before being replaced by the next with new shouts of, “I HAD THAT OUTFIT, TOO!”

My personal Barbie wardrobe included some outfits shown on the big screen and pride swelled in my chest as a sense of belonging washed over me:

  • Ice Capades, Pretty Practice Suit
  • Pajama Jam in Amsterdam Set
  • Pretty Paisley Palazzo Pants

And there it was. In a dark theater in Pittsburgh, seated next to some of my favorite people and a hundred strangers, we all felt alive through shared sentiment, memories, and childhood. What a gift to experience those moments.


2. Barbie was authentic, raw, and surprisingly human

As someone who is behind the scenes of many consumer insights reports and learning more and more about the mindset of Live Well Consumers, Identifying authenticity has been at the forefront of many of my internal conversations. Authenticity is a key to success for brands today, however, the last thing I expected was for the Barbie movie to be was human.

I fully believed the movie was going to be a live action take on the glamourous, quirky, and fun cartoon version of “Life in the Dreamhouse”.

Barbie producers did not deliver what they thought we wanted. Instead, they dug deep and hit on sensitive subjects with creativity, originality, and light.

Barbie’s character was authentic (and surprisingly human) as she worked through real life situations actual women face every day in their relationships, friendships, careers, and aging. Without going into too much detail or adding spoilers, Gloria’s supporting actress role was the epitome of a woman facing inner dialogue of age, feeling a need to belong, and finding worthiness all while raising a teenage daughter. This is something I connected with throughout the entire film. I felt like the movie understood my life!

All around, the screen writing made the characters believable, despite breaking the fourth wall! Iconic, by the way. That scene was so well done!


3. Barbie made us proud

Pride came in waves from the moment I walked into the theater.

I was proud to see entire groups of friends and families dressed up like their favorite dolls to watch the movie. I was proud to hear women shouting from different rows about parts of a movie that resonated with them. I am proud to know that I wasn’t the only girl who had a weird Barbie!

And, today I’m a proud owner of the Barbie movie because I genuinely love how it makes me feel. Proud.

Barbie gave light to serious conversations without trepidation and was unapologetic in the approach it took to discuss them. While the movie was not a children’s movie, it did bring back memories of childhood while connecting it to real life, and it didn’t have to dehumanize its characters in the process.

In very organic way, Barbie brought together a world of women and men, and connected them through sentiment and authenticity.

I would expect nothing less of Barbie.

Go Barbie!


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