Was I disappointed in the Barbie movie? Hell yes.

Let’s start with the highlights of Greta Gerwing’s film: the reconstruction of the world of Barbie is brilliant, the outfits are stylish – we can thank Jacqueline Durran, the Edith Head of her times who also has the maternity of THAT green dress in “Atonement” – and the film, full of Easter eggs, nods and cinematic references, is often funny. But the marketing hype surrounding the film may have been killed expectations that were too high.

Stop here if you did not watch the movie, I’m spoiling the Barbie movie 😉

The feminist angle which was highly anticipated ends up being a basic and cheesy fantasia (“be you!”) whereas Greta Gerwing showed more finesse and sensitivity in her previous movies.

The only feminist tour de force is America Ferrera’s monologue but Barbie’s screenwriters didn’t invent anything since it mimics the 2020 short film “Be a Lady They Said“, otherwise stronger.

I can’t help but think that Mattel, one of the production companies, tries to redeem its feminist reputation.

The Barbie doll has long offered outdated gender norms and unrealistic body image with disastrous effects on kids, such as negative body image and increased risks of eating disorders. New Barbie body types were introduced in 2016 only.

Even if Barbie has had 200 careers, I highly doubt that Barbie’s profession ever was the criteria of choice in a kid’s eyes. I never chose my childhood Barbies because of their profession – I always wanted the most beautiful in my eyes at this very moment – which tells a lot.

In the Barbie movie, Margot Robbie who is “Stereotypical Barbie” (that’s her name) with no career, no dimension, is nice but uninteresting. Actually, I would have loved a movie focused on Weird Barbie – the village’s witch, in a nutshell – who is disregarded by other Barbies except when they need her wise guidance.

Margot Robbie perfectly matches Barbie doll’s unreal physique and I am now wondering how many women will now feel bad because they don’t look like Margot Robbie.

Sasha – a rebellious human who primarly hates Barbie dolls and who is the headstrong boyish teenager – ends up evaporating in spiritless approbation and conforming a so-called femininity in a pink babydoll dress.

At last, openly LGBT+ actors were casted whereas heteronormativity runs everywhere in the movie. Allan may be supposed to incarnate the queer vibe of the Barbie movie because the Allan doll could fit into all Ken’s clothes which led to rumors that the two were maybe a little too close but in the Barbie movie, Allan is the only one in an ocean of Kens – and there is no lesbian Barbie in sight.

Also, the movie character ends up appearing in the eyes of the public as a failed Ken, as Allan the doll was introduced as Ken’s best friend in 1964 but was discontinued that same decade, before being released again in the 90s, as Midge’s husband. Well, no one remembers Allan the doll, let’s be honest.

Pinkwashing shows through these discrepancies and the massive marketing campaign developed around the movie.

The number of Mattel’s collabs with fast fashion brands is huge (100 brands are officially participating in marketing and tie-ins notably including Airbnb, Zara, Primark, NYX – hello over-consumerism, goodbye eco-feminism).

The sales of Barbie dolls exploded by 200% on Ebay in 2022 when a few images from the film were revealed and I bet that 2023 will do better with a halo effect until next Christmas, coinciding with the release of the DVD.

The number of IG reels presenting barbiesque outfits now amounts to millions (if I hear “hey Barbie” again, I scream) offering free advertising to Mattel. Barbie chooses the real world while real women doll themselves up on IG, oh the irony.

Anyway. The Barbie movie is a mainstream film and should be taken as such. My 10-year-old daughter who loved it obviously asked me for a Barbie doll when we exited the theater. She also asked to stop by the Zara store where Barbie-related items were on display with indecent prices.

I eventually felt hijacked by Mattel because the Barbie movie is nothing more than a gigantic Barbie ad, slightly twisted by a smart woman, Greta Gerwing.

Editor’s note. So here are some old photos of my little person in a pink dress. I love this dress, but at no point did I feel “barbiesque” while wearing it. I am a woman, I am not a doll.

Alexander McQueen dress – Repetto flat shoes – Lanvin clutch – Miu Miu sunglasses – The Kooples hat embellished with a ribbon

September 10, 2023