The Captain's Log

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The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

A Lesson From Barbie: letting go of the pressure to be perfect

“What kind if pressure does one experience when they can literally BE anything?”
Barbie movie poster, image from

I never thought that I would find myself relating to Barbie, but the themes of self-discovery and empowerment really struck me. I think a lot of people, including myself, were expecting this to be a surface level feminist film that would be fun to watch, but leave the audience with little to think about.


 In some ways it was what I was expecting. The film didn’t really acknowledge intersectionality and how different groups of women are treated in society. We watched Barbie navigate a patriarchal society in which her biggest threat was being catcalled on the street. Obviously a two-hour movie can’t delve into every nuance of feminism, but the messages on feminism felt a little simple. 


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Barbie becoming human and learning to accept the parts of herself that aren’t perfect was the message that stood out most to me. 


We’ve always known that Barbie can be anything. She can be a doctor, the president, an astronaut, etc. But what kind of pressure does one experience when they can literally BE anything? Margot Robbie is “stereotypical barbie,” and she spirals about not being smart enough or pretty enough to fit into a specific role or category like the other Barbies do. When it’s time for her to face this, she finds herself being overwhelmed by the thought of change (same girl), because change is scary. 


I think this fear is especially relatable for young adults, when everything in your life is changing. College can be extremely daunting because of the idea that you have free rein to choose whatever you want to do with your life. It sounds nice to be a scientist or a lawyer or a business owner, but am I smart enough to actually achieve any of those things? 


Barbie deciding to become human was her deciding to give up being perfect, which I thought was interesting, because society is always pushing women to be perfect. Barbie realizes that if she actually wants to BE anything, she has to let go of that pressure to be the perfect girl. 


I was a big fan of Gloria’s speech about what society expects women to be. We have to be bosses but not too bossy, have a family but don’t bring it up too much, be confident but don’t make other women feel bad, etc. She ends it by acknowledging how insane it is that all of this is also true for a doll (Barbie). When Margot Robbie, who is arguably one of the most beautiful women in America, cried about not being pretty, it was a real eye opener for me. There is not a single woman who is good enough to meet society’s expectations of women because they are unattainable and always changing. 

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