The Barbie Effect: How Did the Barbie Film Change the Way We Perceive Gender Inequality 

By Natalie Soldatova 

As many of you may already know, the long-anticipated “Barbie” film has become one of this summer’s most-discussed movies. The film premiered in theaters on July 21 this year and has already left a significant impact on many people around the world. 

In just three weeks, “Barbie” has grossed $1.3 billion at the global box office. This historic achievement has made director Greta Gerwig the first solo female director to attain such success. Since its premiere, the film has consistently held the number-one spot every weekend in the world’s largest movie markets, including Mexico, Australia, and the United Kingdom. 

One of the primary reasons behind the film’s remarkable success is the deep connection many individuals have with Barbie, a beloved toy that has been a part of countless childhoods for years. The movie evokes a sense of nostalgia among audiences of all ages with its iconic Barbie and Ken characters. 

However, the movie’s impact extends beyond nostalgia as it highlights the inequalities and challenges that women face in the real world. Throughout the film, various issues are explored, including gender inequality, the struggles of growing up, capitalism and patriarchy. 

While some may assume that Barbie’s film primarily targets a female audience, it resonates with a much broader demographic, including men. The presence of various Ken characters in the movie sheds light on the challenges men encounter throught society. According to the Los Angeles Times, the film encourages men to reconsider masculinity for their own well-being, addressing issues like identity crises and life purpose among American men. 

Research has shown that the “Barbie” movie has positively influenced the opinions of 53% of people regarding women in the workplace, and 74% of conservative men reported an improved view of women in leadership positions after watching the film. By addressing diverse issues, the movie prompts most viewers to engage in self-reflection. 

As reported by The Arbiter newspaper, the “Barbie” movie scrutinizes society’s expectations for women and the expectations women place on themselves. For instance, the film emphasizes that Barbie was never meant to be a strict role model dictating how women should look but rather serves as an inspiration for what they can become and achieve. Throughout the movie, various Barbies are portrayed in different professions, including president, astronaut, writer, lawyer, and more. 

Michele Ramsey, a professor at Penn State Berks specializing in women’s studies and communication and a media contributor, has underscored the significance of the Barbie movie. Ramsey noted that the film has initiated crucial conversations and encouraged audiences to contemplate issues such as body image, self-esteem, patriarchy, and feminism. The movie’s popularity isn’t solely attributed to its portrayal of a beloved toy but also to the discussions it sparks regarding Barbie’s impact on our culture and lives. It should also motivate parents to discuss unrealistic body images and the need for equality with their children who own Barbie and Ken dolls. 

Some, including myself, may have initially perceived Barbie as just another comedy for girls. However, after leaving the movie theater, I realized that it was more than just a film. Barbie conveys a message that prompts us to contemplate the movie and make positive changes in our lives. There are numerous lessons to be learned from Barbie, such as pursuing our dreams, overcoming the fear of failure, defying societal standards, and much more. 

If you’ve yet to experience the Barbie movie, make no mistake, it deserves a top spot on your priority list.

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