Dear Barbie,
Below are some shorter reflections, reactions, and responses from writers in our community who saw your movie and had something to say.

Marketing, Cultural Resets, and Anti-Pink Bias

By Amelyah Roach

The phrase “cultural reset” has been thrown around more than average—maybe more  than necessary—over the last couple of years. Cultural resets are those distinct moments in popular culture when society’s focus or perspective on things are redirected to align with what’s “in” or “trending” at the moment. Our instantaneous connectivity through social media has provided a buzzword-obsessed generation the opportunity to be made aware of culture-resetting trends faster than ever before, letting these trends run rampant and die all within what feels like a millisecond. Even the queen Barb herself, Nicki Minaj, referred to the popular phrase as “overused social media jargon.” 

Some may say that Greta Gerwig’s Barbie epitomized this concept of the cultural reset—extensive marketing, noteworthy celebrity cast, social media frenzy, a track list filled with bops. 
But to what degree has the movie and its subsequent “cultural reset” quality soured the  disapproving masses through overexposure, and can we trace this back to a very real resentment towards all things girlhood and womanhood? Are Barbie and other heavily marketed “cultural resets” the problem, or is the Barbie backlash just a fundamental attack on girlhood? ...

Following my Barbie movie experience, I vividly remember heading to a nearby outdoor lounge to have food and drinks with some relatives. I had enjoyed the movie and was proud of my fuschia pink outfit, but as my family and I were seated, I quickly realized that there was a clear divide in the room. There were the  post-Barbie viewers like myself who were proudly donned in pink from head to toe, and the non-pink wearers who  gawked at those of us sporting vibrant hues of pink as if we were a part of some sort of cult. At that moment I couldn’t help but feel judged or even a bit juvenile as I noticed their disapproving eyes, which eventually turned to eyerolls, which eventually turned into laughs, scanning the sea of pink. I felt deep shame and I couldn’t figure out why.

This moment has reeled in my mind for weeks. It even dug out of my subconscious a memory of a ten-year-old, pink-obsessed me, whose parents were about to travel  abroad and asked her what clothes she would like them to purchase for her. There was one  condition---nothing pink. I specifically remember my dad’s exact words: “We’re done buying  pink stuff for you, choose another color.” I was not equipped with the  vocabulary to express how ridiculous it was that a harmless color would be banned  from my wardrobe, let alone how this revelation made me feel. Was this the mark of the end of my childhood? Why would anyone hate pink??

Color should be for all, without limitations or prejudice. Any qualification that a certain color “belongs” to one gender or another is arbitrary, historically contingent, and embedded in harmful gender hierarchies.

“Would the inescapable marketing activations for the Barbie movie have been as annoying in a color other than pink? There’s no way to know.”

Ignoring and rejecting the color pink’s intrinsic ties to freedom, high spirits, fun, glamor, and  grandeur is delusional (and not in a good way), or at least dishonest. Associated  with femininity, and especially girlhood, I believe that the color pink skirts the line between delicate and fierce, and it can and should be enjoyed by people of all gender expressions. 

As I observed the many gawkers and even received snide jokes from relatives about my pink  getup, I had to wonder where this disapproval of the color pink came from. Was it linked to Barbie’s sensationalized marketing schemes that were unavoidable or was this hate just another unconscious  stifling and erasure of anything traditionally associated with and enjoyed by young girls and women? With my thinking cap on, I took to Google, and my research showed me the extent to which this single color had been used historically to propagate different agendas across the socialization of children and the enshrining of gender roles in the home and the workplace. 

I was fact-checked, and I learned that pink was not always deemed a feminine color. In fact, for hundreds of years the color was seen as akin to red, the color of strength, lust, and vibrancy, and was therefore geared more towards boys, whereas the color blue, assumed to be representative of  all things delicate, pure, and light, was associated with girls. Obviously, things shifted later down the timeline and pink became associated with femininity, while blue became the color of masculinity. How did this shift happen? Good marketing.

Image courtesy of the author.

Marketing has become a cornerstone of our capitalist society, allowing corporations to sell basically anything to customers through a web of techniques used to persuade and  pique interest. This art can be both subtle or pronounced, but when done well, its impact can be felt  and seen in the fabric of our society for years. This was the case when gendered items became less optional and more compulsory. 

“Pink is for girls, blue is for boys” they said, and it echoed so loudly that it  applied to clothes, toys, stationary, accessories, and the list goes on. The idea was, “If we market that this is only for girls, and that is only for boys, chances are we can sell anything in this color to them.” And it worked. This “cultural reset” birthed a new norm, and so allowed for the evolution of various cultural associations to attach to each gendered color. Pink is girly, blue is sporty, pink is vibrant, blue is mellow, pink is too much, blue is just right….

Change is gradual, and we still live in a world where blue is  synonymous with male, and pink is synonymous with female. Is this enough to explain why pink is still relegated to second-class status? 

While pink is identified with all things “girly,” the color blue, though associated with baby boys, is relatively gender-neutral in most contexts and embraced as, *whispers* just a color. Although the promo run for the Barbie movie and the reaction it elicited both online and off did bring these questions and themes to my mind in a more significant way, I think most women, nonbinary people, and pink-enjoyers on the whole will admit that they have a complicated relationship with the color as it carries a depth of meaning. Sure, we can say that almost anything we wear or attach to  ourselves will potentially create perceptions of us by society, but most aren’t as policed or politicized  as pink.

We can assume, if we’re being generous to the haters, that the inescapable marketing activations for the Barbie movie were simply annoying. But would they have been deemed annoying if represented by any other color but pink? There’s no way to know. 

The Barbie movie spoke to many themes, with one of the most prominent being the constant  pressure put on women and the harsh judgements we face. To quote America Ferrera’s famed monologue from the movie, “And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I  don't even know.” Is a doll that much more different than an intangible color if the reactions and  judgment are the same? Where does the real resentment lie?

Amelyah Roach is a native of Trinidad and Tobago whose passions often oscillate between a love of humanitarian work and a love of fashion. She completed a BA in International Business in Orléans, France and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Luxury, Fashion and Sales Management at the ISM International School of Management in Berlin, Germany. A self-proclaimed overachiever, she speaks three languages and has had professional experiences ranging from communications to supply chain analysis.

Why Barbie Might Be a Lesbian and Barbieland Is a Closet

By Sophie Ziser

 If there is one thing missing from the Barbie movie, it is a lesbian storyline. Isn’t making your barbies scissor a canon event? The movie is peppered with pop cultural references, and you don’t have to be queer yourself to see the signs that maybe, just maybe, Barbie is a lesbian?! Below are four signs as to why Barbie might not be as interested in Ken as the Conservatives who hated the movie might hope:

1. The Birkenstocks

This might be the most obvious sign. Much like certain pieces of jewelry, for example thumb rings or just lots of jewelry, tank tops, and Calvin Klein boxers, Birkenstocks are lesbian coded. Even though Birkenstocks are worn by everyone today, they have a history of being THE lesbian clothing item.

2. Closer to Fine

The song 'Closer to Fine,’ which Barbie blasts in her car on the way to the real world, is a lesbian anthem. The Indigo Girls are a lesbian band, famous for their LGBTQ+ activism.

Through her car ride, Barbie escapes the heteronormative Barbieland and embraces her lesbian energy (We all know the feeling of singing in the car alone). Up until:

3. Her reaction when Ken appears in her car

Barbie seems quite shocked when Ken appears on her backseat. She was living in the moment and definitely not expecting him to show up. Despite the fact that anybody would have scared her at that moment, she makes it obvious that she does not want him to join her on her journey.

4. Every night is girls’ night

We all did that: Making your Barbies make out, while the Kens were laying just somewhere else, where they didn’t matter and disturb. I don’t think this needs any more explanation.

5. Weird Barbie is the mother lesbian

Weird Barbie hands Barbie her first pair of Birkenstocks. Her style is ‘crazy butch,’ and she definitely rejects the male gaze. She comprehends the system of Barbieland after being in the real world. The marginalization of queer people in society is shown through her exclusion in Barbieland, because she differs from the other Barbies.

Looking through this lens, one can suggest that Barbie world is Barbie's closet. With her opportunity to enter the real world, a lot of things change—not only her footwear, but also her attitude towards Ken and her whole life. He’s just Ken, but maybe he’s also a beard.

Sophie Ziser is studying Journalism, Cultural Studies and Cultural Anthropology of Textiles
at the Technical University in Dortmund, Germany. But her culture is pop culture. As a typical
confessional member of Gen Z, she writes texts about queer issues in pop culture and on the

Feelings and Reflections Upon Watching Barbie

By Francesca Osayande

When I watched the Barbie movie I felt like a Barbie myself. Growing up, the Barbies I owned were white Barbies but in the movie I saw Barbies that looked like me. I felt beautiful and smart, and for someone who has been through so much, it made me know that no matter what happens I am going to be someone too and I have to keep fighting for myself and people who look like me.

It made my childhood watching this movie, and I realized that as women and girls we must dare to be more, we must fight to be seen and heard, and at the end of the day our voices will matter. We must not give up the fight because we can do so much more in life even when it's hard and it makes no sense.

At the end of the day, women deserve better and we are hardworking and beautiful! And I know I will watch the Barbie movie many times over my lifetime and it will continue to remind me that I can be anything I dare to be.

Francesca Osayande is the founder of Bini Sisters, a company focused on creating inclusivity in the fashion space. She has an AAS in fashion design from Parsons School of Design and a B.A. in public relations and advertising with honors from The University of Tampa.

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Issue 7 ︎︎︎ Fashion & Motherhood

Issue 6 ︎︎︎ Fall 2020

Issue 5 ︎︎︎ The Industry

Issue 4 ︎︎︎ Summer 2017

Issue 3 ︎︎︎ Spring 2017

Issue 2 ︎︎︎ Winter 2016

Issue 1 ︎︎︎ Fall 2016

Issue 13 ︎︎︎ Fashion & Politics

Issue 11 ︎︎︎ Fashion & Digital Engagement

Issue 10 ︎︎︎ Fashion & Partnership

Issue 9 ︎︎︎ Fall 2021

Issue 8 ︎︎︎ Fashion & Mental Health

Issue 7 ︎︎︎ Fashion & Motherhood

Issue 6 ︎︎︎ Fall 2020

Issue 5 ︎︎︎ The Industry

Issue 4 ︎︎︎ Summer 2017

Issue 3 ︎︎︎ Spring 2017

Issue 2 ︎︎︎ Winter 2016

Issue 1 ︎︎︎ Fall 2016