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“You Can Be Anything”: Barbie in the Real World

The empowering slogan for Mattel’s Barbies has been taken well into account in Greta Gerwig’s Live-Action movie.


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Video: Tenor.com, Barbie, Main Trailer, Warner Bros Pictures.

The blonde bombshell doll has taken on many faces, celebrity identities, careers, interests, fashion styles, houses, cars, and more. Over the years, this celebrated toy icon has stayed the number one most recognised toy on store shelves.

However, young fans of Barbie often grow up to be critical of the toy with its unreasonable standard of beauty and the brand’s outdated ideas of womanhood among other things. ‘Perfect’ and ‘ideal’ are terms thrown around when discussing Barbie.

(Spoiler alert)

Margot Robbie as Barbie
Photo via Warner Brothers

How does Barbie fit into the real world?

The upcoming live-action movie surrounding the many faces of Barbie tackles that precise question. It drops Barbie into a real-world context and shows how she is affected by her new surroundings where everything isn’t perfect and pink anymore.

And for the many who doubt it, celebrities who have watched it and actors involved can vouch for the poignant messages. Margot Robbie, starring in the movie as Barbie, is confident in this.

“It’s so beautiful. It’s more profound than I think anyone’s expecting a Barbie movie to be,” Robbie said in an interview with Buzz.

Profound it is, with the movie resonating with the question of plastic perfectionism that we all are expected to live up to in our real lives.

Barbie on her DreamHouse
Photo via Warner Brothers

Barbie Can Do Anything And So Can You

“Barbie is a doctor and a lawyer, and so much more than that,” declared Barbie as she brought visitors into Barbie Land.

Our childhood hopes and dreams were reflections of our childlike wonder. When did we decide we were too afraid, too unambitious, too unintelligent, or too inhibited to be ‘anything we want to be’? Whether it is an aspiration to be an astronaut or an artist, nothing is completely out of our realm of possibility, or so we are told.

We grew up believing that if we worked hard, we could attain everything that we want and be anything that we want to be. But how much truth have we experienced from this statement?

President Barbie and Office
Photo via Warner Brothers

Barbie facing reality and change

Between the various phases of our lives, there are periods of limbo. No matter how long or short it may be, the duration between each life stage can feel stressful and confrontational.

When we graduate from primary school, we are anxious to hear about which secondary school we are headed to. And our ‘N’ or ‘O’ or ‘A’ level scores feel like the most important news we will ever receive. Then, when we move into the working world, every interview brings with it feelings of dread and the fear of rejection.

When facing anxious feelings relating to life-changing results and similar important milestones, our instinctive response is to sometimes run away from it. Or resist the change. Or even refuse to find out our results.

Weird Barbie Home
Photo via Warner Brothers

When Barbie realises she is changing, she starts to panic. She questions her mortality, falls off her roof, has a cold shower, and finds her feet flat on the ground. What is happening?!

Barbie searches for answers and winds up meeting Weird Barbie in her eclectic home. The strange doll is covered in colored marker drawings with her hair and clothes cut-up.

Barbie makes a decision with the help of Weird Barbie
Photo via Warner Brothers


Weird Barbie presented Barbie with her first crossroad decision: “You can go back to your regular life and forget this ever happened, or you can know the truth about the universe.” Though hesitant, she is led to the ‘real world’ to find answers.

Though it can be easy to avoid change and anxiety-inducing events, the biggest life decisions require us to be brave in choosing what helps us grow.

How to ‘Be a Real Barbie’

“It is the best day ever. So was yesterday, and so is tomorrow, and every day from now until forever,” said Barbie.

In the movie,  different Barbie’s portray the ability to be ‘everything’. The President, a reporter interviewing the president, a doctor, and so much more. In Barbie Land, every day is perfect, which antithetically brings a certain level of dread in the main character Barbie.

Barbie confronting her emotions.
Photo via Tenor

This idyllic view where everything has to be consistently perfect for it to be a good life is unattainable. If do not experience the inevitable unpleasantries, hardships, and ‘bad days’, we cannot say that we have lived at all.

‘Real World’ sign
Photo via Warner Brothers

“We’re putting a lot of expectations on ourselves to be everything and do everything and be perfect… which is impossible anyway,” Robbie said in an interview with Reuters.

It’s ok to have a bad hair day and have our clothes in disarray. It’s ok when everyday is not all bright and sunny. It’s ok if everything is not pink!  Living life in monotones seives out the richness that other colours can bring.  Without the dark shades in life, the brights will not stand out.

While the movie explore many themes, we go away comforted to know that we don’t need to strive to be Barbie perfect. “Just enjoy” life and everything that it brings, that’s what Robbie wants us to know.

So maybe, we don’t need to go so profound even to find meaning in this movie, we just need to watch it for all it’s fun, and enjoy.

Here’s more tips on how to enjoy life without having perfect scores all the time:

Happy

 

Envy

 

 

Growth Mindset

Self-Acceptance

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