Why “Barbie” is ‘Destroying’ America?

The release of the Barbie (2023) movie prompted thousands across the nation to rethink their values, but this might honestly be a good thing.
The Barbie Movie releases in theaters across America on July 21, 2023. https://www.barbie-themovie.com/toolkit/
The Barbie Movie releases in theaters across America on July 21, 2023. https://www.barbie-themovie.com/toolkit/

Barbie has been a cultural icon since her debut in 1959, and the 2023 live-action movie starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling has only added to her fame, grossing around $1.4 billion globally and counting. 

The movie follows Barbie’s fraught adventure into the “real world,” but what she finds outside of Barbie Land isn’t all pink and glitter. The film has touched the hearts of many mothers and daughters by delving into the emotional relationships between women and exploring what it means to be unique in such a uniform, high-demanding world. 

However, whether the movie executed this message adequately is a sensitive topic to many.

The History

Ruth Handler released her first Barbie creation in New York City on March 9, 1959. The doll was inspired by the post-war German doll Bild Lilli–both sharing the iconic red lip and matching blonde hair. Handler saw the Bild Lilli doll on a family trip to Europe, and inspiration immediately struck.

Handler created Barbie to expand the genre of girls’ toys and to have a doll that mimicked an adult woman for her daughters to look up to (the doll is even named after her daughter, Barbara, and Ken is named after her son, Kenneth). Handler wanted to encourage young girls to imagine themselves pursuing unattainable careers during this period.

This aspiration has continued on to be embodied into an hour and 54 min long display on the movie screen.

The Aftermath

The 2023 “Barbie” movie, on the other hand, has thrown the world up in flames. It is even the reason behind some relationship breakups. 

Reddit’s infamous relationship  threads gained a new post about a week after the movie’s release, titled “UPDATE: I broke up with my boyfriend ‘over the Barbie movie.'” The poster shares how her boyfriend complained about the prominent feminist themes throughout the movie, and that made her realize it was time to end their relationship.

Another TikTok user, @shirly2916, posted a video stating the “Barbie” movie inspired her to leave her boyfriend after his consistently inappropriate behavior. 


@shirly2916 #barbie #barbiemovie #breakup #gaslighting ♬ original sound – SHIRLY 🍭

These two women, along with many more, unanimously agree that the movie accurately reflects common experiences in one’s girlhood. Many viewers feel especially connected to Gloria, played by America Ferrera, and her emotional monologue delivered in the final act of the movie (“You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin…You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining.”)

Our local community also has a lot to say about this controversy. 

A South student, junior Amanda Rushton, shared her opinion on the matter from an outside point of view. “I think the ‘Barbie’ movie has affected the standards women have for the people they date, especially how there has been a trend [of] people breaking up with their boyfriends.” 

Yet, this matter isn’t solely involving women. Lots of men have delved themselves into this cultural war. Ben Shapiro has included himself in this discussion, dubbing the movie “flaming garbage” and “woke.” His particularly defensive reaction has garnered lots of attention, further dividing men and women. 

Unsurprisingly, the argument does not end there; some single men have come out online saying women appreciating the ‘Barbie” movie is a dealbreaker. Allison Panetta, for example, on the app X tweeted “Got unmatched on Hinge after I told a guy that Barbie is an experience and Oppenheimer is just a film.”

A South Forsyth freshman, Sanaa Gupta questioned the authenticity of the movie’s feminist message. “Barbie set unrealistic expectations for women in the beginning, and as you watch the movie she kind of took the unrealistic expectations away,” Gupta said. “But in the end, didn’t you leave comparing yourself to Barbie?” 

Gupta went on to passionately share her perspective and interpretation of the movie’s iconic soundtrack. “The music was poor. At the end they make you cry [and then] they randomly start playing Nicki Minaj, like, what? The lady next to me in the theater is full-on sobbing and then it’s like ‘I’m bad like a Barbie.’ What is up with that?” 

Gupta’s heated opinion has resonated with many others.

Despite an unworldly negative connotations surrounding the Barbie franchise, the doll has ignited a fuse in furthering women and young girls to dream big. The 2023 movie has maintained this legacy not only through children’s toys but also by continuing to grow with the girlhood of many.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Stormy Wilson, Staff Writer
Stormy Wilson is a junior at South and is incredibly enthusiastic to be contributing to The Bird Feed! Her fondness for music and writing runs deep, dating all the way back to her early years. Whether she’s studying for exams or dancing around a room, you’ll likely find a Chloe Gong book (preferably These Violent Delights) strategically placed somewhere, a Spiderman poster in the corner, or NCT Dream, Michael Cimino, & Taylor Swift playing in the atmosphere. Some other books she keeps close to her heart are Red, White & Royal Blue, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, and From Lukov, With Love. Her dream school is Vanderbilt University and she would love to pursue a career in criminology/forensics! Writing for The Bird Feed this year is exhilarating for her and she can’t wait to share stories that fascinate her. Stormy’s always open to meeting new people and can’t wait to see what this school year brings her!