Barbie – A Psychological Overview of the Movie
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Barbie – A Psychological Overview of the Movie

Barbie

Most of us would not have missed our chance to revisit our oldest childhood friends, “Barbie”, in theatres, some months back this year. The biggest movie box office clash that this year witnessed, was between Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. And who won? Technically both. Both of the films witnessed gigantic amounts of love and support from its audience worldwide. While many of us might have stepped into these theatres desperately wishing to reminisce about our childhood and find some amount of solace, hoping for a reunion with our childhood mate for most of the girls out there, Barbie offered us something much more than fresh reminisces of our childhood days.

The movie garnered about $162 million on its opening day and became one of the most groundbreaking hits released in the entertainment industry. The film, which promotes the theme “Because Barbie can be anything, women can be anything”, urges viewers to question traditional standards and celebrate their uniqueness. The film gives life to the feminist ideologies that were hidden under the iconic toy. Barbie, just like in its prequels, lives in “Barbieland”, which is apparently a place where Barbie stands firm with the motto, Barbie is a doctor, a lawyer, and so much more. This planet is filled with pink vehicles and fantasy mansions, and it is ruled by powerful women. Stereotypes do not hold women back here.

Read More: Mental Health and Women

Womanhood confers authority and respect. Gerwig’s Barbie film unabashedly promotes its feminist purpose, transforming the typical gender-specific Barbie world into a celebration of women’s strength and demonstrating what women are genuinely capable of.

Masculine Dominance:

Barbie further uncovers the psychological nuances of the protagonist’s life both in the Barbieland as well as, while she steps out into the real world. As Barbie leaves her empowering Barbieland, the most pivotal aspect that she encounters in her initial experiences, is nothing but masculine dominance, something that is completely alien to the place she belonged to.

The real world into which she had stepped in all alone, teaches her lessons about the harsher side of life. Male domination challenges Barbie’s knowledge and beliefs and literally shakes up her entire world. Barbie, despite her difficult experiences, does not sit back; instead, she decides to learn and fight against unjust standards. The film becomes a powerful indictment of patriarchal institutions and the difficulties that women confront because of them.

Read More: Are We Still Fighting the Patriarchy?

Be Open to Experiences:

The movie lectures us on the importance of staying open to lessons and learnings in our lives. Ken is showcased to be an open individual, welcoming learning throughout the movie. All he wanted to do when he got into the real world was learn for the better. He was pleased with what he discovered in the real world and wanted to share it with the other Kens so he might improve their lives as well. He had good intentions, even if the consequences weren’t always spectacular. He genuinely wanted to encounter new experiences about anything and everything in order to become happier and more wholesome as a real individual in the new world he had stepped foot in.

Read More: The Psychology Behind Risk-Taking

Express Yourself Openly

Throughout the film, Barbie embodies in us the inevitability of expressing our emotions. it normalizes the fact that human beings can remain vulnerable with other individuals and even let others see their tears and smiles. It normalizes the expression of vulnerable emotions for all genders. While living in the Barbie land, happiness and often glee are the only emotions that the protagonist experiences. But moving out of her land, to the other reality she chose for herself, messed up her emotions and she began to encounter feelings of alienation and of being an outcast.

The actual spectrum of emotions and feelings that Barbie could encounter in her lifetime genuinely expands as she joins the real world, striking paths with some terrible Kens from the real world as she and her own Ken become acquainted with their new surroundings. Barbie is strapped onto a roller coaster of emotions that she is unsure how to ride. However, she allows herself to mindfully feel the emotions that come associated with these experiences, with utmost grace.

Not just Barbie, Ken also further into the movie, is found expressing his emotions as he experiences a serious identity crisis as he settles in the real world, alongside Barbie. Although Ken is initially seen confidently walking into his new space, in the movie, he is also found to be struggling with an identity crisis and is even found sobbing in Barbie’s arms. This, indeed, is a rare opportunity where stereotypical male characters are seen venturing on a journey of self-acceptance.

Mental Health Issues

The movie is also seen illuminating on protagonist’s experiences of dealing with mental health issues. She is unable to maintain her picture-perfect life for too long and becomes susceptible to mental health issues, mainly anxiety and depression, affecting her majorly with the new infliction in her journey. One of the songs in the movie, titled “Bad Day” effectively brings it to the audience’s understanding about how intrusively human beings may experience suicidal thoughts or may even have a wish to die.

She is, later in the film, found to be suffering from recurrent episodes of depression, panic attacks and as she reports it “objectless fear” which is termed as anxiety in the discipline of psychology. Barbie, hence, as a movie, was hugely successful in inculcating lessons about normalizing mental health issues and teaching people to talk about it openly without having anything to hide about the same.

Read More: 15 Women psychologists Who made their contribution to the field

Summing up

We may identify Barbie and the colour pink with shallow, frivolous, girly pleasure, but the film is everything but that. All through these years of Barbie, this gracious lady became the ultimate image of femininity, complete with pride, sensuality, and stylish taste. As the film rightly points out, the doll has been condemned for encouraging excessive ideals of the female form, but it also emphasizes how strong femininity can be. The movie, lectures about multiple life lessons, unexpectedly, and courageously emphasizing topics like identity crises, mental health issues, dynamics of relationships etc, thereby, enhancing the benchmark standards of the upcoming movies wishing to discuss the same with the public.

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