I heard it. The woman behind me did, too.
As 11 of us traipsed into The Walrus Oyster & Ale House in Columbia, Maryland, having just sat in a clump in a sold-out theatre to watch Barbie, with most of us wearing some form of pink: myself, clad head to foot in pink, purse and sweater, too — two women seated at the bar turned on their stools and said to us as we passed, “Hi, Barbie; Hi, Barbie.” And we returned the salutation. Hi, Barbie!
Yes, I went. I saw the movie. I’ve never been much of one to rush to movies to see them in the theatre and have allowed, at times in my life, easily over a year to pass before making it to the cinema, but sometimes a movie is more than a movie, and I had such thoughts about this one. I wanted not just to see it, but to experience it as a social phenomenon. So, when a local friend posted she and some friends were going to see Barbie this evening, I decided to tag along and wear pink.
Others had similar plans. And I liked this. A white and blonde gal with her hair high in a pony tail, her every curve made visible by the clingy Barbie pink leotard, was accompanied by (assuming) her boyfriend: a white guy in shorts and a beach shirt, his hair plastered into a Ken-like front-swoop fashion. A tall, thin, young Black woman donned her pink, favoring an iconic Bratz doll-style look, replete with clunky shoes; her mother, less edgy in dress, yet no less Barbie-pink-attired. A group of mothers of this-and-that nationalities were with their really young (like five-ish) daughters, each of them dressed to the nines in their own five-year-old fashion senses. All about, people were wearing pink. I loved it! I loved making an event of the event, making it a bit special, doing a little something more.
FWIW, the young-adult daughter of one of the women in our posse crocheted here own Barbie purse for the event. She figured out how to pixelate and make the pattern herself, no less!
I also loved the movie. I’d heard it was good … from those who thought it was good. I’d seen the Rotten Tomatoes scores (good) and the imdb some-loved-it-some-didn’t span of ratings. Truth be told, I was more surprised (ahead of time) by how much people loved it. I can see why.
No spoilers here in this post, though I’ll offer I think they did a magnificent job of Barbie-ifying BarbieLand and the movie. I just loved it. I loved the doll as character in her own world of play and imagination. I loved Barbie — one and all. Stereotypical Barbie and every iteration thereof. I loved Ken, too, in his own way. (He has his path ahead of him, and that’s ok. We all gotta find out who we are … just us, not in relation to others.)
I thought the movie did a reasonable job of crafting a plot that stayed playful enough to have Barbie as a main character, yet serious and significant enough to have meaning, character development, impact and some emotions tugged out. Speaking of which …
I was a bit like what-the-heck! for the opening scene and questioned my choice to watch the film in those first moments. But several moments later I was truly touched and in soft tears, reflecting on what Barbie — the doll, the concept, the idea — has done for many girls. Self included. How she opened doors of possibility. How she allowed girls to dream. I’d had a taste of this impact listening to my friend Wendy Williams talk about how Barbie was a role model and inspiration to her as a young girl. Truly inspiring.
me and barbie
I wasn’t much of a Barbie girl, myself. I had a Barbie. (I was born in 1963. Who didn’t have a Barbie?) Eventually we had two Barbies in the house. Had to, I guess, as there were two daughters and sharing my toys with my younger sister wasn’t really my favorite thing. I’m pretty sure we had a Ken. He was kind of bland to me, even back then. He was just Ken. He didn’t have much of a life except as being an accessory to Barbie.
My Barbie had clothes other Barbies didn’t. My mother sewed. And well.
My Barbie also had a dented breast, as she’d been left in the driveway and had been hit by a car tire. And her head was prone to come off. She might not have been Weird Barbie, per se, but she wasn’t “sit to have tea” as much as she was “fly through the air” Barbie. Whether it was my sister’s Barbie or mine, limbs were loose. Arms and legs didn’t always stay attached. She was a toy among our hand puppets and wood blocks and race cars.
Dolls just weren’t my thing. At least not after I was six or seven. I don’t know. It was a long time ago, but I remember not being nearly as into dolls as other girls around me were.
barbie and politics
I also understand folks saying how Barbie dolls have created unrealistic images of feminine bodies, though if I had to guess, I’d say most girls would prefer to play with Unrealistic Barbie with perky her boobs, a ridiculously thin waist and nice hips than one proportioned to how so many women’s bodies are today. Just a guess because I remember Barbie having boobs — and big perky ones at that — was part of what made her fun to play with. She wasn’t a baby doll. She was an adult woman.
I felt the film touched interestingly on patriarchy, politics and various issues — inside the world of being a Barbie movie. While political sensitivities and desires vary from person to person, I found myself ok with the range and levels to which the movie went. It wasn’t trying to be too subtle, and that was ok, too. Yeah, it was silly. And, yeah, it wasn’t. There were some messages with meaning there, for sure. How they hit or resonate with each person is an individual thing.
I loved the Hi, Barbie! aspect of the movie and the reminder that, in some ways, every woman is a Barbie — able to have her Barbie Dream House, her Barbie car that can take her anywhere, a career of her choice and her Best Day Ever everyday. Barbie has been on quite a path herself these many decades. She has both changed along the way, as society, women, girls and roles have opened up; and she has remained iconic, in a way that makes Barbie, Barbie. (Loved the credits at the end — the list of Barbies, and some Kens.)
well done, margo
I’m figuring I’ve seen Margo Robbie in a movie or two years back, though it was Suicide Squad and her fabulous character fabulously played, Harley Quinn, where she first popped onto my radar. I loved her span and how much she brought to Barbie as well. I thought she played this role brilliantly — from her iconic Barbie-ness, to the fresh and modern twist on Barbie, to the angst and challenges she must face, to her choices to move from comfort to discomfort to worlds beyond. Yeah, I loved Margo as Barbie, Barbie as Barbie and the movie, in general. I would see it again, for sure.
keeping it going …
As I got in my car after eating at the restaurant a couple minutes’ walk from the movie theater, another showing of Barbie had just ended, and I saw a group of half a dozen Barbies and one Ken walking out, all in pink. Passing on the Hi, Barbie! recognition shared with me and the others when we walked into The Walrus earlier, I rolled (scrolled?) down my window, shouted “Hey, Barbie!,” gave a friendly wave and drove off into the night and whatever adventures lay yet ahead for me in yet another Best Day Ever!