Throughout the past couple of years, I’ve struggled with my femininity. Once I made it to fifth grade or so, I was one hundred percent against pink, dresses, skirts, make-up, anything “girly.” You see, I was a tomboy. I played video games and baseball. I built Lego sets and binged Star Wars. I wanted nothing to do with being a “girl.” This was quite contrasting to my early childhood of Barbies, dress-up, and princesses, but everyone went along with it. I don’t know exactly where the shift came from, but I have my suspicions. Somewhere, along the way, I picked up on the toxic idea of rejecting femininity in the name of “feminism.” Or, the idea that anything girly is bad because being a woman is bad.
I have, rather recently, unlearned this mindset, and have fully embraced everything that seven-year-old me loved, because it’s okay to be a girly girl and/or a tomboy, as long as you don’t turn your nose up at the other group. I have, many times, referred to makeup or clothes as “toys” and have spent countless hours “playing with them” (what can I say, I’m a fashionista and a shopaholic). On top of that, my new favorite colors are pink and yellow (my two favorite colors as a little girl), and I have made it my mission to rewatch every single Disney Princess and Barbie movie. But at the same time, I still love losing my mind while watching and playing baseball. I would so much rather be outside, covered in mud, cold and wet, than inside doing anything else. And believe me, I still build every Lego set I can get my grubby little hands on. I’m still the same girl I always have been, minus happily stating that “I’m not like other girls” and disregarding those who are.
A huge part of this self-discovery journey of not only what it means to be a girl, but of reviving my childhood took place over this past summer. Coincidentally, it piqued just before the Barbie movie came out. Barbie was not only a doll that I loved, but was the subject of a film series I absolutely adored. So of course, as soon as my and my two best friends’ schedules aligned, we had to go see it.
I’ll be honest, I cried like three times during it. It was such a powerful movie. It let me finally be at peace with femininity and being a girl. It addressed the issues with the Barbie Doll (unrealistic body standards) and created empowerment for women of all ages. It was more than a story. More than a movie. It was empowering. It was validating. It brought light to issues in such a huge way. It made nearly 1.5 billion dollars at the box office, which made it the highest-grossing film of the year, Warner Bros.’s highest-grossing film ever, and the 15th highest global-grossing film. And that’s insane. This movie and the following trends around being a girl made me giggle and kick my feet and do a little dance around my room because never before in my life have I seen such a wave of love and acceptance and femininity and an adoration for girlhood. So tell me why, at the first major award show it ever had, it was reduced to being about “a plastic doll with big boobs”?
I didn’t watch the Golden Globes live, but I saw the clip all over my social media the next morning. For those of you who missed it, the host of the event, Jo Koy, read a joke that went as follows: “Oppenheimer and Barbie are competing for Cinematic Box Office Achievement. Oppenheimer is based on a seven hundred and twenty-one page, Pulitzer Prize-winning book about the Manhattan Project, and Barbie is on a plastic doll with big boobs.” I’m not here to diss him, or whoever wrote that joke, or the people online who agree with his message, because everyone who has seen the movie, and really understood what it means, knows that he’s wrong. The people who agree with this joke would want to see women upset, especially young girls. They want to be able to call us emotional and unstable, so why let them? I’m not going to change someone’s mind, someone’s opinions, someone’s worldview with one blog (why would these kinds of people even be on a webpage dedicated to lifting the voices of teen girls anyway?). But I can share some hope. Barbie still won that award, the one Koy made the joke about. And Billie Eilish won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, with her song “What Was I Made For?,” which was written for Barbie, and talks about how crushing it can be to be a woman. And, to make that win even better, she won over another song from Barbie, “I’m Just Ken,” a song that’s actually just Ken complaining that Barbie won’t pay attention to him. Eilish’s win and Barbie’s win really brings up morality for women, especially after that joke, because someone somewhere recognized our struggle, and awarded us for pushing forward through the wall of ignorance.
It’s so incredibly disheartening that that joke was made at the expense of women everywhere, but in the morning after, seeing all these women come together and support each other, made me prouder than ever to be a woman. I still love being a girl, and no one can take that away from me. If you haven’t seen Barbie yet, go watch it, and then go giggle and kick your feet and do a little dance around your room. It’s worth it.