Whether you’re a Barbie, a Ken, or an Allan, the Barbie movie had an undeniably large presence in the media and is in fact the highest grossing movie of 2023 (and according to Billboard, even more popular than Oppenhiemer.) Although Barbie dolls are typically targeted towards the younger audiences, people of all ages and genders had a lot to enjoy about this blockbuster movie.
Ettaraine Altieri, an 11-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, loved the Barbie movie so much she’s seen it five times and each time she’s rewatched, she says she picks up on a new theme.
“Beauty is in everyone,” Ettaraine says. “No matter what size, shape or looks.”
18-year-old Elliott Painting, from Fairport, New York, picked up on these themes of body positivity as well.
“…Even as a guy it’s very hard not to compare yourself, your body and your looks to other standards that are set and that can really hurt your self confidence,” Elliott explains. “When Barbie’s feet first collapsed in the beginning, that’s when you first realized she had her insecurities and then it was like a snowball effect through the rest of the movie.”
When Barbie begins noticing she has imperfections and insecurities that weren’t the “standard” for all the other Barbies, she panics. She even plans to leave for the real world, so she can reverse her “flat feet” and the possibility of getting cellulite. Feeling scared that you’re not fitting into the social or beauty standard , is a feeling that anyone can connect with, especially in the age of social media. “It was just a good lesson for everyone to learn about self-value.” Elliott says.
From 11-year-old girls growing up, to an 18-year-old guy beginning life in college, the theme of body positivity is equally as important and well displayed through Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie as disconnecting from harmful stereotypes and standards in a pretty pink explosion of song and color.
Yet not everyone was as impressed as Ettaraine and Elliott. New York Post critic Johnny Oleksinski, complains about the cast and characters, specifically the “mother-daughter pair played by America Ferrera and Ariana Greenblatt” who he thinks “are flatly conceived and textureless.” America Ferrera, who’s known for her other iconic roles in Ugly Betty and the hilarious sitcom Superstore, had a very important role in the Barbie movie. Acting as the mother of a teenage daughter and employee for Mattel, Ferrera’s character essentially causes all of Barbie’s problems, through her own mid-life crisis. She also has an iconic speech towards the end of the movie, speaking on all the struggles women have to unwillingly face, which Oleksinski did not seem to appreciate.
However, Lorraine Altieri, a 77-year-old from Westchester, New York has very different thoughts on Ferrera’s character.
“When America Ferrera gave her speech about the empowerment of women and about how women shouldn’t be put down, and they should speak up and pursue what they want… I remember enjoying every minute of that and got all choked up listening to her talk.”
Lorraine has experienced a lot in her 77 years of living — in terms of political eras — and has seen the roles and expectations of women change over time. She explains how women being able to work “has been an argument for many, many, many years.”
“Years ago, women weren’t lawyers. They were school teachers and secretaries… Now it’s coming to that point where the women really are stepping up and they are quite capable of doing any possible job that men could do.” In Barbieland, Barbies have all sorts of varying occupations like doctors, journalists, lawyers and presidents that Lorainne was able to appreciate after seeing firsthand how women had to fight so hard to have jobs like these for so long.
Whether you’re like 11-year-old Ettaraine and enjoyed the Barbie movie so much you’ve seen it five times, or you’re like the New York Post critic who couldn’t get behind the characters, the Barbie movie was still a very iconic movie this year and is definitely worth seeing. Greta Gerwig’s film urges individuals everywhere to see the beauty in themselves and realize they are “Kenough” despite social standards and expectations imposed through the media. This is a film that speaks to all generations and genders, showcasing the beauty of womanhood, the importance of self love and the notion of self worth. Hopefully after you see the movie for yourself, or maybe rewatch it for the 5th time, you leave with a newfound appreciation for yourself, and the color pink!
Autumn Valdes is a first-year journalism major who believes we all are “Kenough”. They can be reached at [email protected]