OPINION: Barbie pushes viewers toward self-discovery

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60th anniversary graphic of the iconic Barbie claiming to have inspired girls since 1939.
(Photo courtesy of Mattel, Inc.)
By Joannah Clemente

We are not just Barbie dolls in our own pink worlds. We have the power to redefine womanhood in a society full of standards and expectations that often limit us from becoming who we truly are.

Director Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” received criticism for its storyline which focuses on social standards, materialism and character development.

However, it’s not really about norms, particularly the patriarchy, but rather a subliminal reminder that everyone possesses a unique purpose in life.

 We can paint stories of our own that transcend the glittering spectrum of our experiences as women.

Initially, I thought it was just a film crafted by a woman, focusing on women and only meant for women. It is more than that.

The film offers comfort and nostalgia, like a reunion with my younger self. It reminds me of when I constantly felt pressured to behave appropriately as a girl. It was as if my self-expression was limited. I felt inferior because of the expectations placed on me, especially with four brothers around.

Such expectations from society cause a collective impact on women to the extent that they not only promote oppression but also stir internal conflicts within us.

Women struggle with conforming to prescribed roles while seeking personal fulfillment. Personal growth can be hindered by barriers like self-doubt and fear.

Given its focus on Ken’s story arc, some viewed the film as “woke” while others labeled it “anti-men.” The film addresses the importance of acknowledging vulnerability in men and rejecting toxic masculinity.

While it’s common for society to underestimate women’s capabilities to exceed traditional roles like wives or homemakers, several influential figures have defied the norms.

Maria Ressa, a Filipino-American journalist and CEO of Rappler, secured her Nobel Prize for her commitment to fight for press freedom rights in 2021.

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani education activist, was honored at 17 for her advocacy in 2014 for girls’ and women’s rights in education.

Their successes serve as a testament to the capabilities of real-world “Barbies” that are reshaping society through positive influences and purpose-driven contributions.

The film’s message appeals to me as a story of finding one’s wings. It’s about self-discovery, freedom and empowerment that oversteps inequalities that I still confront.

It goes further than the patriarchy and even more the feminist propaganda; it’s knowing our power within. A power that is not given but grows from our unique experiences from girlhood to womanhood.

It urged me to embrace being the main character in my own story without being subjected to external pressures and assumptions.

“Barbie” is not just about the color pink or just a film. It’s a mirror of introspection that pushes us to acknowledge the boundless potential within each of us.

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