Life in Plastic Is Fantastic: Why I Can’t Wait to See the New Barbie Movie 

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve spent the better part of the last four months defending the movie “Barbie” to my coworkers at The Georgetowner. Our editor-in-chief and managing editor recognize how iconic Barbie is to pop culture and encouraged me to write this. For the others (including some non-coworker friends of mine) who scoffed at my excitement over this movie, life in plastic is more fantastic than you’d think. 

I was born in 1985, meaning I grew up firmly in the 1990s. As the oldest of five, I had three sisters and one brother. My sisters and I played with Barbies all the time. Between the four of us, we had the dream house, corvette, camper and multiple versions of Barbie, her little sister Skipper, their best friend Midge and of course, Ken. Our ‘90s Barbies had crimped hair, were mostly all blonde and had the old version of the Barbie body: impossibly thin. The funny thing is, we didn’t care! We didn’t look like Barbie, but our youthful imaginations saw ourselves in the idea of her.  

An 80’s Barbie “Glamour Home.” YouTube screenshot.

Our Barbies were CEOs, moms, Presidents of the United States, doctors, veterinarians, and writers. My sister who became an actual vet adored her “Pet Doctor Barbie.” My other sister, who is now a doctor, played constantly with her Doctor Barbie. I created story after story, adventure after adventure, with our Barbies. Maybe that’s why I am now a writer! At one point, the sunroom in the house we grew up in was called “The Barbie Room.” 

What we loved about Barbie was how much she encouraged us to imagine, create, and conjure up all kinds of careers and things to do. Our Barbies were doctors and mothers, writers and wives, sisters and CEOs. Our Barbies could do anything, and they allowed us to begin cultivating our passions at a very young age. 

When the movie based on the doll was announced, I was instantly intrigued. Seeing the trailer, I was sucked in as soon as Margot Robbie’s feet walk on screen in Barbie’s signature high heels. When she takes off the shoes, her feet stay on their toes—just like the Barbies I remembered from my youth. Brilliant! 

The movie trailer is impeccably well done: pink everywhere, the seashell necklace on Barbie I recalled from my childhood, Barbie’s dream house that she floats down from, as if a child is holding her and drifting her down into her car, and of course the wonderful Ryan Gosling as Ken. There are other Kens of course, but they are interchangeable. Barbie is the true star of this show. 

When Kate McKinnon’s Barbie comes on screen, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Her hair was cut into a misshapen mess, she was colored on with marker and looked exactly like one of the Barbies my brother or youngest sister would destroy. Another perfect ode to childhood nostalgia. 

Director Greta Gerwig is famous for indie movies with drama, comedy and depth, like “Little Women” and “Lady Bird,” both of which did well in the box office. If you’re hesitant to see this movie, here’s how I thought about it. There are a lot of A-list, wonderful actors in this film like Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, Will Ferrell, America Ferrera, Simu Liu and more. The soundtrack alone is full of popular musicians of the moment. Why would they be a part of something that isn’t good? 

The movie also does something very important. It incorporates more diversity, just as the Barbie brand has in recent years. The Barbies on screen are different body types, skin colors and ethnicities. That alone is something to celebrate. 

If you’re an anxious, tired, worried-about-the-world adult (aren’t we all?), I encourage you to go see Barbie for the nostalgia factor. Barbie has been around since 1959, so chances are, we all have played with a Barbie (or have been a Ken) at some point in our lives. Why not relive your childhood years, especially if Barbie was a part of them? 

As the hit 1997 song “Barbie Girl” by Aqua said, “Come on Barbie, let’s go party!” I’ll be at my local theater Sunday night with my sisters, reliving our youth as Barbie girls. 

Rated PG-13, “Barbie” opens in area theaters and nationwide tomorrow, July 21. 




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