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Barbie's Impact on Society

By: Ashlee Miller, Brianna Fernandez, Emily Silva, and Maria Daumas

The history of feminism in the United States began in 1840, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Lucretia Mott at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London. The conference refused to seat Mott and other female delegates from America because of their gender. In 1963, Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, the founding text of modern feminism. In 1991, Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas, a man nominated to the United States Supreme Court, of sexual harassment. Thomas denied the accusations, and, after extensive debate, the United States Senate voted 52–48 in favor of Thomas. The feminist wave formally began at the Seneca Farms Convention in 1848, when three hundred men and women rallied for the cause of equality for women.

The Barbie movie has been applauded for its feminist politics. The movie shows how women are effective leaders, how every woman is confident in herself, and that they are all equal. It emphasizes that women can embrace femininity and succeed professionally. The Kens are used as side characters and dance partners when needed. Barbie starts to question mortality, which causes her to go into the real world with Ken to see how women and men are actually treated. Both Barbie and Ken go on quests to further discover themselves. When Ken goes to the real world, he sees how the men run everything, and he takes that ideology back to Barbie Land, where he takes over.

 

The director, Greta Gerwig, was trying to show how women are thought of as less than men. Barbie realizes how women are undervalued and unappreciated in the world. Men have higher-position jobs that women don’t have in real life. To us, the Barbie movie was not just about motherhood but also about how society makes a woman feel. Instead of seeing women as humans, the world treats women like dolls. Thus, when mothers have daughters (a.k.a. their barbies), they try to raise them to be perfect because of all the pressures they have been facing. They don’t want their daughters to go through the feelings the real world made them feel, so they try to make them perfect. This ends up setting little girls up for failure because they think they need to be perfect and not human. So, when they get to college and actually feel the stress of the real world, they are confused, lost, angry, and hurt.

This movie sparked a wave of feelings and viral trends. It influenced summer trends such as Barbie Summer. In 2023, everyone is more socially aware because of access to social media and the internet. Knowing this, the Barbie movie generated a lot of talk in online groups and comment sections. It was important for many supporters of the movie to point out that Barbie did realize the way she treated Ken and kept him on standby for her needs was how men treated women in the real world. But roles were reversed, and a mutual understanding had been reached by the end: women and men should be treated with respect and given equal opportunities. That was the movie’s biggest criticism, and the response to the criticism was an emphasis on the true meaning of feminism. Equality, not men or women over the other.

 

Due to all of the chatter and opinions, advertisements for things like Barbie Summer, as aforementioned, were all the hype. All viewers were impacted by a powerful message. Everything pink was all the talk and the fashion trend. This highlights the impact this movie had on everyone and everything, including fashion!

Some people were saying that the montage at the end of the movie was random. Nonetheless, we think that it perfectly encapsulates girlhood and motherhood in a way that can't really be expressed through words. That's why Ruth Handler, the creator of Barbie, decided to create Barbie for these women. It's impossible to tell someone what it truly feels like to live and breathe as a woman. You just have to experience it. The Barbie movie was a reminder that girlhood does not end with motherhood.

 

Citations:

(1.) Fast Company

(2.) Medium

(3.) The Blue Banner

(4.) New York Times

(5.) New York Times

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