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Barbie World: Proving a Perfect World Exists in the Form of Sisterhood

by Gina Brennan


Content created ahead of the SAG-AFTRA Strikes, we stand with the American actors' union and the Writers Guild of America who are fighting Hollywood labour disputes.


It’s time to move past the incredible outfits and soundtrack - now we’re looking at the setting of the movie: Barbieworld. 


In Barbieworld, normal world rules don’t apply. Barbie floats into her car from the first floor without a scratch, sunbathes on the beach without fear of burning, and never drops her smile (except when she’s thinking about dying…). 


Barbieworld is perfect and, importantly, Barbieworld is diverse.

Without having seen the movie, at time of writing, the trailers have made it clear that Barbieworld is very much in contrast to the normal world - even the colours are brighter. 


The plot seems to follow Barbie escaping to the real world, and discovering how bad the real world is compared to Barbieworld. This set-up of Barbieworld as perfection is what makes it so important that the Barbies (and Kens!) in Barbieworld are diverse. 


There are Black Barbies, Latina Barbies, white Barbies, fat Barbies, skinny Barbies - and every single one is perfect.

 

It’s refreshing to see such a diverse cast of women being celebrated as meeting the standards of perfection. 


In years gone by, the ‘perfect’ female characters would be played by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, or Rachel McAdams. 


No shade to those stunning ladies, but its time Hollywood caught up with 2023 and realised that beauty and perfection does not only come packaged in the form of slim white women.

 

This move is all the more groundbreaking as it comes from the Barbie brand, a doll steeped in controversy and commonly accused of promoting an unrealistic body type and beauty expectation for women. 


While the brand has previously been making strides towards inclusion, the casting of this film feels like its biggest move yet. Greta Gerwig has created a Barbieworld that any of us could fit into, and this message feels very important.

 

Not only are the Barbies diverse in looks, their jobs span a similar spectrum. One is a lawyer, one is an author, one is a physicist, and one is a mermaid. Any woman, no matter her looks or career, can fit in with the Barbies and view herself as perfect enough to belong in Barbieworld.

 

It also promotes a sense of togetherness. 


These varied women, who in other films would never cross paths, all co-exist together in a perfect paradise of Barbie’s creation. They are all best friends, greeting each other cheerfully every day and partying together every night. 


Seeing female friendships transcending race, size, and career represented on the big screen feels special as films often miss out on this crucial aspect of womanhood when they make blockbusters. 


Where in other movies the pretty girls form a clique, the highly driven career women stick together, and the artsy nerds are the outcasts, in Barbie they are all allowed to socialise and have fun together. And that is one of the things that makes Barbieworld so perfect - the beauty of female friendship.

 

We do need to address the elephant in the room - Margot Robbie. 


 Does still making the main character a blonde, slim, beautiful white woman negate the diversity of Barbieland, and push the other, Barbies into best-friend, side-kick territory? This is definitely a valid critique. 


You can cast different Barbies all you want but making the main character white and conventionally beautiful still upholds the old image of Barbie, and one that is unattainable for many. 


While this is true, the message of Barbieworld goes deeper. Would the film have made a bigger statement by casting a Black woman as Margot Robbie’s Barbie? Absolutely, and this could be seen as an oversight. 


However, by including diverse people in Barbieworld it still portrays the message that all of those women, and all of the women who relate to them, are perfect. And that is an important message for women to hear.

 

Making Barbieworld embody perfection was a given - but choosing exactly which type of Barbies to portray that perfection must have been difficult. 


It’s exhilarating to see more women than ever represented positively in this film, and even more so to watch them be best friends. 


While Margot Robbie’s character plays into old Barbie stereotypes, at least we know now that other Barbies are possible and, most importantly, perfect.


Edited by Emily Duff

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