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The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

Staff Profile
Maddy West
Maddy West
Staff Writer

Fashion Doll or Feminist? Barbie’s Role in Feminism

BARBIES+BREAKTHROUGH%3A+Greta+Gerwigs+blockbuster+in+all+of+its+pink+glory.
Jenna Coller
BARBIE’S BREAKTHROUGH: Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster in all of its pink glory.

Some may know “Barbie” as their favorite childhood toy, the character from their favorite movies, or to some, an important symbol of feminism. Greta Gerwig’s 2023 blockbuster film, Barbie, encapsulates these ideas into an impactful and cultural touchstone. The film is not about just a toy, or another “girls’ rule” movie. It’s about the real definition of feminism and the need for it.

“Barbie” was first created in 1959, the first ever 3-D fashion doll to go on the market in America. Barbie’s first official job was a teen model. Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator, then had the idea to give her more careers to show young girls what their futures could be. Fast forward to 2023, and Barbie has had more than 250 jobs since her inception. In a People Magazine interview, Ruth Handler explained her mission that, “a girl can interpret the adult world around her with this doll as a prop”.

A girl can interpret the adult world around her with this doll as a prop”

— Ruth Handler

Ever since Barbie’s explosion of fame, she has risen to the top of sale charts and become the most well-known toy in America. Mattel came out with many new fashion dolls all under the name of “Barbie,” even releasing Barbie-brand clothing lines with stores like Walmart, Target, and Hot Topic. 

On December 15th, 2022, the first teaser trailer for the Barbie movie came out, announcing July 21st, 2023, as the release date. Fans started to make plans as the date came closer, using social media to urge movie-goers to wear pink in theaters for the movie. 

Award winning actress Margot Robbie was then announced to play the role of Barbie. Robbie has worked on many notable films before this such as, Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, I, Tonya, and more. She is also one of the co-producers of the Barbie film alongside three others.

According to Ryan Gosling, who portrayed Barbie’s love interest Ken, on set Robbie “had this pink day once a week, where everyone had to wear something pink… She would go around collecting the fines, and she would donate it to a charity”.

I went into the movie thinking it was going to be a lighthearted comedy but was instantly proven wrong. Less than halfway through the movie, viewers got a different perspective, the film shifting from a come dy to a powerful feminist message. 

There are two settings in the movie, “Barbie Land” and “The Real World” that contrast to show what feminism isn’t.  Barbie Land depicts a world where the multiple versions of Barbie are in charge and each have a different job with perfect lives, while the Kens have no power but seemingly look happy. In the Real World, men have the ultimate power and women do not have the chances men have, it quite literally resembles our real world and the domino effect of the patriarchy. To some people, Barbie Land is everything they could ask for; dream jobs, being listened to, and having the power that men in the real world have. But that’s not what feminism is, feminism is wanting to be equal in power and worth between men and women, and that’s not what Barbie Land displays.

Towards the end of the movie, Gloria, played by America Ferrera, gives an extremely motivating speech that emphasizes what women experience and think in the Real World. This speech really resonated with me and many women globally. Gloria’s monologue precisely describes the collective experiences that all women have had. Such as, the common culture of the workplace, gender roles, and the daily occurrences in a woman’s life.

Ken, the stereotypical and frankly annoying character, might make up a large population of men in the world, but he doesn’t reflect how all men should and do act, and Barbie doesn’t forget to make this point. Allan, a one-of-a-kind Ken doll, debuted in 1964. He was marketed as “Ken’s best friend.” Out of all the dolls in the “Barbie” doll franchise, Allan was the least popular one. There wasn’t as much appeal towards Allan due to the spotlight being on Ken, and in the movie, Allan doesn’t have any duplicates. He is depicted as a weird character, because he is the only one of his kind. Even though he is “Ken’s best friend”, he is closer to the Barbies and respects them. This comes into play at the climax of the story when Ken throws his tantrum. Ken gets upset because he feels invalidated and comes back from the Real World with a different perspective on men. This follows in the Kens taking over Barbie Land and renaming it “Kendom”

Allan’s empathetic character comes out at the end when he is faced with the Kens. Throughout the movie, Allan also shares the same idea of being equal with the Barbies. He plans an escape from the Kens because of their tyranny in “Kendom”. Therefore, Allan was a great addition to the cast of Barbie; he smoothly embodies men who are not interested in patriarchy and also feel the need for feminism.

Barbie has been a popular toy for decades, but this movie is the first time that Barbie is being taken seriously as a symbol of feminism and is a big step in the right direction for feminism. Barbie gave us women a sense of understanding for each other- it made us feel seen and worthy. As a result, we should all give thanks to Barbie for bringing Barbies, Kens, and Allans together.

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About the Contributors
Daleshka Leon Raya
Daleshka Leon Raya, Staff Writer
Daleshka Leon Raya is a freshman at CHS in her first year in Periscope. She enjoys reading and writing opinionated articles in A&E. Her favorite book is If He Had Been with Me by Laura Nowlin. If she isn't reading, she is most likely watching a movie series. She is very excited to start sharing her writing through Periscope.
Jenna Coller
Jenna Coller, Editor-in-Chief
Jenna is a senior at CHS and this is her third year on Staff. She loves reading and her favorite books are Normal People by Sally Rooney and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Jenna has an affinity for music and lyricism, her favorite artists being Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and Pheobe Bridgers. She is excited to be returning as editor-in-chief this year alongside her classmates Hannah and Ryleigh.
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