The new summer movie Barbie gives voice to the iconic doll that embraces women and their aspirations. It is stylish and self-consciously chic — just like the doll itself — and it definitely embraces the power of pink and the glossiness of plastic. That by itself is an art form.

Barbie is also an incredibly thoughtful movie about the human condition. Let’s not forget that the doll came out in 1959, and the Food and Drug Administration approved the birth control pill in 1960. That was a game changer for women.

Ruth Handler, who named Barbie after her own daughter, created a talisman for girls to explore future possibilities in arenas outside the home. In real life, some aspirations have been realized, and others remain blocked, and that’s exactly why girls and women love and loathe Barbie. The point remains that regardless of how Barbie is viewed — as lantern bearer for feminism or reminder of the realities of inequity — a conversation is due.

After all the action-figure, masculine-focused movies, we have one that is speaking a message central to the core of being female in modern society. The box office figures say an audience is listening, and I hope we can hear Barbie out.


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