The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

Ordinary Barbie helped me accept myself

Stella Tavilla

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that America Ferrera’s feminist monologues in “Barbie” hit hard.

Her character’s idea for “Ordinary Barbie” especially captivated me: a Barbie who can be as normal as she wants and does not have to meet any expectations. 

Growing up in the era of girlboss feminism, I always feel like I have to be the most accomplished person to be doing enough. I am constantly looking for ways that I can be better and achieve more.

The idea of the girlboss originated in 2014 to describe a woman who is ambitious enough to achieve anything that a man can, according to an Aug. 21 2022 Guardian article.

Barbie was built on this idea decades before. Founded in 1959, in an era where women were only seen as homemakers, Barbie’s many careers marked a shift for women into the working world.

However, Barbie’s many careers may create the illusion that one woman has to be everything. While Ken was able to just be “beach,” Barbie had to be perfect. She had to be a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist and an author. Just being “Barbie” wasn’t enough.

Women face immense pressure to be extraordinary. Seventy-five percent of women feel pressure to be perfect compared to 62% of men, according to a July 2019 Business Matters article.

Feminism was originally intended to be a way for women to be liberated from society’s expectations for them, but now, because we believe we can do anything, we think we have to be everything, according to an Aug. 2013 Glamour article.

In the movie, the original Barbie, played by Margot Robbie, feels this same pressure to do it all.

“I can’t do brain surgery. I’ve never flown a plane. I’m not the president. No one on the Supreme Court is me. I’m not good enough for anything,” said Robbie’s Barbie in the movie “Barbie.”

However, we learn in the movie that one Barbie can only do so much. Every Barbie has one job, and no singular Barbie can have the over 200 jobs depicted in the Barbie franchise.

In college, it always seems like there is a never-ending set of expectations that lay just out of reach.

I’m always hearing stories about people who are doing it all: perfect grades, amazing internships, leadership roles. Meanwhile, I’m struggling to get my homework done while working six hours per week and frequently skipping non-essential activities because I have no more energy in me.

It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others in an environment where we’re all striving to be successful. The pressure is on for students to stand out and be the best.

Like Barbie in the movie, I don’t think I give myself enough credit for the things that I am doing. I am showing up to my classes, my field placement and my job each week and putting in my best effort. I do more when I can, but if I can’t sometimes, that’s okay too.

I need to remind myself that I only have so much energy to give, and that’s normal.

I can be Ordinary Barbie, and that’s enough.

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About the Contributor
Emma Dinsmore
Emma Dinsmore, Digital Media Editor
(She/her) Emma Dinsmore is a junior elementary education major and political science minor from Queensbury, New York. She has been an Opinion Columnist for the Cynic since the fall of 2021, and became the Digital Media Editor in the spring of 2024 as well. In her free time, she loves writing, baking and watching chick flicks. Email [email protected] to get in contact with Emma.