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The Groves Scriptor

The Groves Scriptor

The Groves Scriptor

It’s Bigger Than Barbie

Sylvie Ball
Sylvie Ball photographed a wide range of Groves attendants including staff, students and teachers around the school. The collage of photos is intended to highlight the diversity of the movie, and the Barbie tagline “You Can Be Anything.”

Barbie: 12 Dancing Princesses; Barbie: Princess Charm School; Barbie: In a Mermaid Tale; Barbie And The Three Musketeers— these are all examples of peak cinema, in my seven-year-old self’s opinion. She loved everything pink and everything perfect and everything princesses, and that’s everything Barbie symbolized to me. I’m 16 now, and I got to experience the magic of Barbie through a different lens this summer with the live-action Barbie movie, directed by Greta Gerwig. Now I think Barbie means something a little more. 

Greta’s “Barbie” took all the lessons that were embedded in the iconic cartoons of Barbie and found the deeper meaning. For me and other girls— like Christina Jones, an eleventh grader at Groves— the movie struck a chord in our minds and tugged on our heart strings, creating a melody of all the complicated parts of girlhood. 

“The Barbie movie spoke to the little girl in me, but also taught me as a 16 year old girl that I don’t need to fit into the mold everyone wants me to fit into,” Jones said. 

The mold that Jones is referring to is one that’s been associated with the Barbie franchise from its creation: the thin but curvy, pretty but plain, blonde-haired blue-eyed doll face. In contrast, a theme of the Barbie movie is highlighting the franchise’s opposing tagline, “You can be anything.” 

The film did a good job including different races, ethnicities, body types and disabilities. When Barbie left to go to “The Real World” she realized that no matter how many different types of girls there were— sporty girls, dainty girls, smart girls, dumb girls, tall girls, short girls— girls didn’t feel like they could be anything. Instead, they felt the pressure to be something. Something that no girl could ever be. Something that would fit what everyone else needed them to be. 

The truth is that girls could and can never just be. From the time we’re little girls to teens or young adults, we’re spoon-fed phrases like “boys will be boys,” so really what’s the problem with girls just being girls? We’re supposed to take into consideration how men want us to look, how they want us to dress, how they want us to work, in what field we should work  and how they want us to feel about other women and men. We can never just exist. 

Even Barbie felt the need to change who she was when she left “Barbie World”, and entered a world where everyone’s thoughts of her mattered more than her own. After being catcalled, Barbie changed her clothes into something that shows less of her figure. For Barbie, a doll made from the ideals of someone’s mind, feeling like she needed to change herself as soon as she felt the weight of how men were viewing her, says something. 

America Ferrera, playing the role of the human Gloria who Barbie befriends, gave a great speech near the end of the film in response to Stereotypical Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, saying that she “isn’t pretty anymore.” Her speech made many people in my theater tear up. I saw nods and quiet “yes’s” whispered into the packed room, because nothing she said was an exaggeration, not for so many women. 

“I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us,” Ferrara said. 

Before this beautiful closing line of the monologue she explains the contradictory nature of what it’s like to be a woman living in a world that doesn’t like women, saying, “You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.”

Something “Barbie” did really well is showing the contradictory parts of being a girl.

“Being a girl is so hard sometimes,” Christina Jones said, but in the same breath she said, “I was just thinking it’s so beautiful to be a girl.” 

Girls don’t get the time to take the weights off of their shoulders and discard things they don’t want to carry; they take on all of it, with ribbons in their hair and dresses down to their knees covering the bruises of their failure. If you don’t look good while you are doing all that you are expected to do, then you aren’t being a good enough girl. 

The Barbie movie gave me time to mourn the little girl I was and the woman I could be if the weights were not stacked so high. It also inspires many women to come together in celebration of all the beautiful parts of womanhood, like dressing up in all pink and going out with friends. 

Girls were making it a point to bring a man in their life to see the movie along with them, as a test to see if they would develop a sense for what it’s like to be a woman, or at least try to: trying to weed out the men that “actually care” about all the “silly stuff” embedded in the cycle of girlhood. Most girls reported back that boys just didn’t get it, because they don’t have to, and they never will have to. Girls, however, are forced to understand the inner workings of boys growing into men from the time that we can talk. Not just that, but we want to— we want to understand how to make boys fawn over us. 

“You see all these people in relationships or all these girls getting male attention, and you are always thinking, well, what can I do to make myself like them? How do I get that, because I’m feeling like I need it,” Jones said. 

The best sculptors couldn’t mold a woman better than the expectations and opinions of a man. “Barbie”, however, showed us a world where women prioritized themselves and their friends over what men wanted.

Girlhood is beautiful. “Barbie’s” final montage inspired the most beautiful videos and short films commemorating all the things that make girlhood so special. Painting your nails, braiding your friend’s hair in class, matching your outfits on Fridays, fantasizing about your future husband or wife(always making sure to mention they have to be kind), complimenting girls you don’t know in the hallways at school, having a hair tie on your wrist that isn’t yours, sobbing your eyes out to “The Notebook” and getting ready with your friends. 

Girls get the privilege to live and grow into women who have the power to carry life in their bodies and the power to nourish; I think it is so beautiful that that is one of the things that nobody will ever be able to take away from us. There was an unexplainable feeling I felt deep in my stomach when watching the last montage of the movie— like seeing everything I had done, everything I had felt through the years wasn’t just something I had felt, that it was other little girls’ realities as much as it was mine. This connection is what makes it so beautifully tangible to me, the cycle and the feeling throughout it all; everything about being a woman comes full circle. Everything goes back to a women. The complexity of being a girl is a lot to balance— so if you are a girl reading this, give yourself a little time to thank yourself, for being strong enough to go through it all.

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About the Contributor
Sylvie Ball
Sylvie Ball, Editor
Sylvie Ball is an eleventh grader at Groves High School. Outside of the Scriptor she also indulges in her passion for writing at home. This is her second year of taking Journalism. She enjoys playing with the basketball team at Groves and traveling to new places and hearing new stories around the world. She hopes that her experience from the Scriptor will enable her to better her professional-level writing skills for the corporate world.
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