With the upcoming release of Greata Gerwig’s hotly anticipated 2023 movie, Barbie mania is everywhere. The internet is awash with #kenergy, Barbie profile pictures and teaser trailers. But, is this new invitation into Barbie’s world going to be healthy or another unrealistic attempt to push outdated narratives and gender stereotypes? In this article we’ll explore some of the key insights into Barbie’s world and if there is anything we can learn from her.
From the outset of the trailer for the new Barbie movie, we get a sense that this is going to be a very different kind of Barbie story.
The classical Barbie body is anatomically incorrect and impossible to achieve.
From dance routines to beach hang outs, Barbie embraces a way of life that is based on a vibrant community.
Barbie and her friends are always doing fitness and other activities together — a proven way of staying motivated and accountable.
Barbie’s impossible body
It’s no secret that the classical Barbie body shape is completely unattainable. From her anatomically impossible vital stats to the fact that she’s permanently on tip-toes — her physique has come under fire from critics for decades. So what have Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig done with the new Barbie to flip the script? And, is there anything inspirational about Barbie’s world that we can bring into our own? Let’s find out.
Barbie’s new story
The moment Margot Robbie’s heels touched the ground in the trailer, everyone suspected they could be in for a different kind of Barbie story. The flat feet paired perfectly with another dance-routine teaser in which Barbie asks her shocked friends if they ever think about dying. If ever two clips could confirm that there’s a big Barbie narrative shift about to happen — these were it.
Those of us who have studied the trailer will have also noticed a fair amount of body diversity amongst Barbie world inhabitants. They aren’t all extremely thin or displaying that classic Barbie shape — which is great for representation.
Offering up different bodies on screen as role models is so important if we want to break free from the dominant thin ideal that is promoted globally. Young girls need to build up healthy relationships with their bodies instead of making unrealistic comparisons that can lead to body dissatisfaction and even dangerous eating disorders later in life.
Hot takes from Barbie’s world
Although they haven’t given much away with the trailer, one thing is for sure — Barbie World is heavily community focused. From hangouts on the beach to elaborate dance routines, friendship, and activity are central to Barbie’s hometown. So, how can we draw inspiration from this community vibe?
Group activities are great fun
Barbie and her friends are always doing something. Can we look to her lifestyle choices for inspiration about new ways to move our bodies and level up our fitness game?
Having people to share hobbies with is wonderful. And, if you have a fitness goal or are learning a new skill, it’s easier to get motivated and stay motivated if you do it in a group.
Accountability is key when it comes to hitting goals or completing projects. We need other people to cheer us on, check in with our progress, and help us get back on track when we feel like we are failing. Here are a few group based fitness ideas you might like to try:
- Dance classes
- Hula hoop classes
- Running groups
- Hiking groups
- Tennis clubs
- Yoga classes
In the teasers, we see huge choreographed dances that look lively, entertaining, and physically demanding. Dancing is an amazing way to get fit and have fun at the same time. It’s a friendly and non-judgemental group activity and most towns have classes that you can attend no matter your skill levels. Dance therapy is also an incredible way to promote emotional, social, and cognitive improvement.
Ken and Barbie put on their roller blades for a skate along the beach in the "real world." Although their fashion looks totally out of place in all its garish, neon glory, they have great technique and it’s clearly something they’ve practiced.
Roller blading is a wonderful way to tone up, improve balance and coordination, and is great fun. You also get to do it outside and once you get good enough, all you need is a pair of skates and you’ve got a whole new mode of transport.
Many towns and cities across the U.S. have skate groups that encourage beginners to come and learn. If Barbie's neon roller blades have inspired you, why not find a local group to test out your wheels with? After a few sessions, you’ll notice greater strength building in your quads and core especially.
Barbie doesn't shy away from standout fitness clothing. Neon cycling shorts paired with an 80’s style high rise leotard. Bright green sweatbands and leg warmers. Vibrant pink everywhere. Barbie makes sure her fitness looks serve up the energy that says, “I’m here to have fun."
Barbie and personal development
Within the first couple of minutes of the trailer we see Barbie move from an unattainable level of "perfection" into someone who begins to think more deeply about her surroundings. So what can she teach us about inner growth and expansion?
Questioning your reality
Asking questions about your world is part of expanding physically, emotionally and spiritually. Barbie asking her whole group if they’ve ever thought about dying is a big step in terms of personal development. And, the fact that she does it at all in a world where things seem "perfect" is a great message to anyone who has been musing over the meaning of life.
Choosing the path of knowledge over familiarity
In another clip, we see Barbie venture to the outer edges of her world — encountering an older, wiser Barbie sporting a strange buzz cut (hands up to anyone who ever cut off their Barbie’s hair). She offers her a choice between staying where she is and knowing the secrets of life. That choice is comically displayed using a pink stiletto and a Birkenstock sandal.
At first Barbie goes for the stiletto. But then is encouraged by her wiser counterpart to choose the path of discovery — which she does.
We all need encouragement to grow and step outside our comfort zones. It’s not always easy and there are invariably trials and tribulations to go through, but the experiences often leave us with a deeper connection to ourselves and others.
Seeing a previous representation of "idealized perfection" take a new road to discovery allows us to question where we may have stayed in our own comfort zones. Try the following journal prompts to see if you’ve been holding yourself in the comfort zone:
- Have you kept yourself small in order to fit into a mold that isn’t true or authentic to how you really feel?
- Do you have a desire to know and discover more about yourself, the world, and your place within it?
- Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done yet?
Stepping into the unknown with a positive attitude
Most of us go into the world of self-development with some trepidation. Whether it’s therapy to help us understand our mental health better, or a new movement practice to help us connect with our bodies, branching out can be nerve wracking.
Barbie begins her travels with her favorite sing-along songs and a big smile on her face. It’s a message to us all that breaking through our own barriers can be done with joy. So next time you are deep in personal work, put on your favorite track and sing your heart out. It might just lighten the load a little.
Thinking outside the box
Barbie literally lives in her own world. Surrounded by friends who are all in her world. It’s small, confined, and draws a parallel to the fact that Barbies are bought and sold in boxes.
However, she breaks through the confines of her prescribed narrative and begins to create her own story.
Learning to think outside the ideology given to us by society is a sign of emerging maturity and self-development. Barbie encourages all of us to start thinking a little differently, no matter what other people think, or how perfect our lives might seem on the outside.
And what about Kenergy?
Kenergy is a new catchphrase that has taken the internet by storm. It even has its own hashtag — #kenergy has been used across social platforms hundreds of thousands of times in the past few weeks and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. So what is Kenergy?
Smashing gender stereotypes
In Barbie's world, it appears that Ken exists primarily to be there for Barbie. He happily takes the supporting role while Barbie struts center stage with huge main character energy. To upend the outdated stereotype that a man must be the breadwinner, protector, and main protagonist in our gender-scripted reality is wonderful to see on screen.
Kenergy embraces a feminine side
Ryan Gosling's Ken fully embraces a more metro-sexual side. From his flawless fashion matches with Barbie’s outfits to his hairless body and slicked blonde hair he shows us that it’s totally okay to care about what you wear.
In stark contrast to our world, where men often experience heightened anxiety and depression when outwardly expressing more typically feminine-leaning traits, Gosling’s Kenergy is playful and secure. This playfulness gives us all the permission and a great dose of inspiration to flaunt ourselves in whatever way we choose without fear of reproach. Kernergy is all about bypassing the stigma of men exploring their identities — one perfectly coordinated outfit at a time.
How to bring more Kenergy into your life
We could all benefit from a little more playful exploration, compassion and understanding of different ways of being. Here are some ideas to help you bring some Kenergy into your life:
- Be a cheerleader for your friends.
- Champion the ideas and aspirations of those you love.
- Dare to go out with your best friend in coordinating outfits.
- Learn a dance routine and perform it for your friends and family.
- Spend some time thinking about the way your assigned gender has influenced your outlook on life.
When Ryan Gosling was asked how a person could find their inner Kenergy at the Barbie premiere, his reply was pitch perfect:
What can we take from Barbie's world?
Just from the short trailer and a few teasers it’s clear to see that this movie is going to make us all question ourselves and our society. From fashion to fitness, here are the key points we can all learn from Barbie, her world, and adventures into the unknown:
- Unpacking and eradicating gender stereotypes.
- Approaching gender exploration with playfulness.
- Stepping into the unknown with joy and curiosity.
- Making working out fun.
- Engaging in enriching community activities.
- Thinking outside the box and embracing independent thought.
At Healthnews we can’t wait to see the full movie and find out what Barbie’s world becomes after she ventures out. It will be so interesting to witness her development from a vapid form of perfection into a wider and more worldly woman. Thankfully, due to the visionary talents of director Greta Gerwig, this Barbie movie is going to surprise and delight us all in unexpected ways.
- Scientific Reports. Daily gender expression is associated with psychological adjustment for some people, but mainly men.
- Body Image. Exposure to Barbie: effects on thin-ideal internalisation, body esteem, and body dissatisfaction among your girls.
- Body Image. You can buy a child a curvy Barbie doll, but you can't make her like it: young girls' beliefs about Barbie dolls with diverse shapes and sizes.