Closer I am to Fine?

Record Breaking Barbie Sends Message of Empowerment. Do we get it here at Hudson High?
Closer I am to Fine?

Enthralling audiences worldwide, the Barbie movie spoke to women of all ages as the title character takes on the many obstacles girls deal with daily.

Though I went into the movie thinking it would be a live-action retelling of the many cartoon movies and TV shows that Barbie has starred in, I was pleasantly surprised that the movie tackles issues of sexism and the patriarchy. 

Margot Robbie plays “Stereotypical Barbie” a mirror of the tall, blond, tan blue-eyed model prototype who loves pink. In Barbieland, all women are Barbie; Doctor Barbie, President Barbie, and each rallies around to support one another. She lives in the idealistic world of pink, equality for all women, constant happiness, parties and perfection. 

However, her life was upended with intrusive thoughts of death that seemed to come out of nowhere. This change from her day-to-day fashion-focused lifestyle leads her to find out what is happening to her. Seeking advice from “Weird Barbie”, she must enter the Real World to confront the human playing with her since a portal has opened between human and doll, spilling each other’s thoughts into one another.

Her goal is to find her human to set things back to normal. Within days of being in there, Barbie finds out an uncomfortable truth: being a woman in today’s society is exceptionally hard. 

That message rang true to many young women throughout Hudson High. The film appeals to those who both love and hate the plastic icon Barbie. It’s a balanced approach and Robbie’s characterization of who she is far from stereotypical. The layers of the movie deal the the character of Barbie, but also with Mattel’s attempt to market feminism in capitalism. 

Senior Class President Bruna Oliveira reflected on her thoughts on the film, “I took away how much sexism is still so relevant in our society even though we have made a lot of progress, it is a struggle.” 

60+ Years of Barbie’s Impact

The toy Barbie was launched into the American toy market in March 1959. Barbie creator and co-founder of Matell Inc. Ruth Handler modeled Barbie after a popular doll at the time, Bild Lilli. Lilli was originally marketed as a “racy gag gift” men would buy in tobacco stores. Eventually, Handler bought the rights to Lilli and Handler then created Barbie, with the vision that she could be anyone she wanted to be. It was a change from dolls typically being babies for young girls to play house with.

Over the years, Barbie’s looks have changed with the times. She has embodied a Malibu Dream, a fashion icon, a doctor, and an astronaut. Regardless of her glass-ceiling-shattering career moves, she is often interpreted as a stereotypical dumb blond. 

Throughout the Barbie movie, we can see the way people treat Barbie in the real world. From calling her names, objectifying her looks, and not taking her seriously, to touching her inappropriately, the way men treat women in this world is unacceptable. When Barbie walked up to a construction site to greet the workers, a worker made a sexual advance towards her and touched her inappropriately. She is arrested for punching the man who grabbed her.

Hudson High’s Thoughts

There’s an expression that life imitates art. Ironically, as the movie talked about the treatment of women several members of the Hudson High community treated an anonymous survey with such disrespect, that the message of the movie seems to be lost on them. 

QR codes were put out on lunch tables on the dates of September 4-8. The QR code lead students to a Google Form where students had the opportunity to answer the following question:

  • “What are your opinions on the 2023 Barbie movie?”

Responses were collected, with some listed below:

  • “ASSSSSS” One response writes.
  • “Loved it me and ____ _______ kissed at the end” 

The lack of respect for a movie that pointed out such things as the objectification of men and women was mirrored by the responses. I found the utter disrespect of such an award-winning movie, plainly disgusting. 

While there were many disrespectful comments on the survey, I also found there was often more good in the world. 

“It was very inspirational,” said a response. 

In the Barbie movie, there were times when not just me, but others in the HHS community were moved to tears. 

The moment that got the tears flowing was Gloria’s speech, how it is impossible to be a woman in today’s society. 

Olivera said, “My favorite part was when Gloria gave the speech of how hard it is being a woman and everything we do there is always someone saying it’s not enough or good enough.” 

To give you a peek into Gloria’s speech, the character states: “You have to be thin, but not too thin,” Gloria starts, “And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people.” 

The world is full of contradictions, especially for women. You need to be smart, but no one loves a bookworm. Dress cute, dress sexy- you want boys to like you. But don’t show skin, boys can’t control themselves.

This recent movie helped highlight sexism in today’s society. How people, of all genders, should sit down with one another and have a meaningful conversation about gender equality. 

For me, and hopefully, for other women in this world will work to live with the lessons this movie brought us. Because, as Gloria says, “I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us.” 

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About the Contributor
Olivia Downin
Olivia Downin, Editor-in-Chief
Senior and Co-Editor-In-Chief Olivia Downin is taking journalism for the third year in a row. Downin is excited to continue her leadership role this year and to work with the new staff members and underclassmen to edit their articles and give interview feedback. She likes profile pieces because she likes to write creatively and informatively. Downin says that one of her favorite aspects of Journalism is all the people she has met and learned about throughout the year.  Downin enjoys reading in her free time as well as doing cross country and acting.    

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