Last month Barbie made headlines at the box office as it broke records for having the highest-grossing opening weekend for a movie directed by a woman. Fewer than 100 movies have topped $100 million in an opening weekend, and Barbie exceeded expectations as it raked in $162 million in its first three days. It has continued to dominate the box office as well as news stories and social media feeds. Women (and men) have sung praises for its acting, screenplay, and pro-women/anti-men themes, but it is America Ferrera’s monologue (who plays a Mattel Barbie designer in the film) that has garnered much attention and been shared, tweeted, and typed over and over again. If it hasn’t come across your news station or social media feed yet, take a read here:
“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood.
But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.”
Seeing how this monologue has struck a chord with millions of women stands out to me. That so many women relate deeply with this scene in a Barbie movie tells me that women in our culture today are, like America Ferrera’s character, feeling beat down, worn out, unsatisfied, and hopeless. Women are feeding into an endless cycle of comparison and bitterness towards one another and towards men. Women have worn themselves down trying to be liked and trying to attain a portrait of womanhood that is not attainable or satisfying.
Being an Astronaut Will Make Me Happy…Right?
The picture of womanhood being promoted by movies and media like Barbie is one that will always leave us feeling worn out and unsatisfied. It will leave us feeling this way because the ideal of womanhood we are told to compare ourselves to is rooted in competition with men and each other, and not in how God’s Word tells us true womanhood was designed.
We compare our achievements with those of others, and when we don’t have a job with the same prestige as someone else we feel like we have been left behind and aren’t meeting our full potential.
We compare our homes to those of others, and when our kitchens aren’t stainless steel and airy, our linens lusciously white, and our aesthetic the ideal modern-farmhouse-airy-swedish-industial look we we see on social media, we grow dissatisfied.
We compare ourselves to other working women, homeschool moms, in-shape fitness people, beautiful looking couples, and so many types of women, men, and couples that society says are the ideal goal. We compare our homes, salaries, family life, vacations, and so many other things we are told should make us happy.
Culture tells us feeling content in our bodies, having enough money, being a powerful leader/CEO/astronaut/politician, climbing the work ladder, curating the perfect homeschool, or being loved by people will make us feel satisfied. That being whoever we want to be will make us happy. But we know this is not the case. Even though these things may not be wrong in themselves, we know they do not bring fulfillment. The solution, however, is not trying harder to attain these things or working to “bring down the patriarchy.” The solution is Christ and realizing our identity in Him.
Are you feeling discontent, down, or hopeless?
When you come across messages like America Ferrera’s Barbie monologue in the world around you, don’t fall into the trap of comparison, bitterness, and discontent it encourages. Don’t give in to the man-bashing, destroy-patriarchy attitude it cultivates. Don’t entertain the bitterness towards other women and anxiety-inducing social media scrolling it leads to.
Turn to God and His Word. He created you, knows and cares deeply for you, and has clearly laid out for us what Biblical womanhood and manhood should look like.
It has been a joy going through a series on “Feminology” the past two years. It is only by having a true, Biblical view of womanhood and femininity that we will be able to guard ourselves against the lies that lead us into anxiety, hopelessness, and an overall distorted view of what it means to live as a godly woman in our world today. If you haven’t had a chance to look through those posts by various women whom I deeply respect and love, I’d encourage you to! You can find the posts here.