Barbie: a Surprisingly Feminist Film

September 12, 2023

By Emma Cosman

After months of anticipation, several genius marketing strategies leading up to its release, a killer soundtrack featuring iconic artists such as Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish, and even Nicki Minaj, and an endless star-studded cast, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is undoubtedly THE summer blockbuster of 2023.

Barbie follows Margot Robbie as Barbie, who starts to have existential thoughts of death while living in picturesque Barbie Land and must return to the real world to ‘fix’ herself. As Barbie and her Ken go to the real world, they realize that not everything works the same as it does in their world, and they both learn that the real world is a lot more complicated than they once realized.

Growing up, I was obsessed with all things Barbie. As a six-year-old girl with bright blonde hair, I was lucky enough to be able to see myself in these dolls. Nevertheless, beyond similar appearances, I was enamoured most by the endless storytelling opportunities that Barbie gave me. Barbie inspired me to follow my dreams and made me believe that anything was possible. If you had told that little girl that one day she would get to go to a theatre full of girls dressed in pink and experience a joyously feminine story all about the world of barbie, she would probably have thought that you were crazy.

As I’ve grown, my love for storytelling has grown with me, which has led me to develop an adoration for all things film. This is why Barbie was to me, as I’m sure it was to many others, such a special and anticipated movie.

So, is Barbie even worth all this hype? After all, if you’re like me, it has been impossible to escape hearing about this movie. On social media alone, Tik Tok for your pages and Instagram stories have been FILLED with excitement, opinions, analysis, and even a simultaneous movie release competition with Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer; cue the Barbenheimer memes.

After having seen the film on opening night—in full pink of course—I’m here to tell you that the hype is absolutely real. The movie is not only fun, hilarious, and heartwarming, but also provides shockingly genuine insight into the complex experience of womanhood and what it means to be a feminist in today's world.   

Going into it, I knew that the film would touch on topics of feminism, having seen the trailers and knowing of the director —Greta Gerwig’s —frequent use of feminist ideals in her previous works. However, as soon as the credits began to roll, I sat in my theatre seat in shock. Not only did the film dive into a variety of topics surrounding feminism, but it also debated topics such as the patriarchal roles of power, the cruel world of capitalism, the role of gender and society’s expectations for men and women, and even what one's purpose in life is.

After having thought about the film for a couple of weeks now, I believe that Barbie is not only a summer blockbuster must-see but an essential film for all those who believe in the empowerment of women, social equality for all, and even for those who feel lost in the crazy journey of growing up.

So, whether you’re watching the film for your younger self who grew up loving Barbie, your current self who as a student is learning how to navigate the unexpected turns of the real world, or even just to understand what all the hype is about, I hope that like me, you leave the theatre feeling empowered by Barbie in a way you never thought you could be.