I have never felt closer to my womanhood than this summer. Though I do consider myself to be a mindful individual, I don’t really think I ever thought about womanhood that much. However, with the release of the movie Barbie, and the viral reflectiveness on what it means to be a woman, I find myself going through my day embracing my life through a new lens– I am a woman, and that is beautiful.
There was a point in my life that I fiercely denied my love of all things “girly.” My favorite color was blue. I wanted Pokémon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles instead of dolls. I hated the frilly clothes my mom would pick out for me. Any attempt at putting a headband in my hair would be met with a deadly middle school glare.
Recently, in my deep dive on ‘Barbie Summer’ and articles related to embracing womanhood, I have realized this “I hate all things girly” phase is so common. I wish I could tell my younger self that it is okay to be exactly like every other girl. That liking girly things doesn’t make me any less unique. But since I don’t have a time machine, I will say it for her– I love pink. It is vibrant and light and happy. I love tulle skirts and lace and body glitter and bold earrings. I love watching Say Yes to the Dress. I love buying colorful gel pens to write hearts in the margins of my notebooks.
Barbie highlights these nuances of girlhood so well. We are so desperate to escape girlhood when we are in it. But then we grow up. And we have a new set of expectations set upon us by society. We need an education. We need to be trendsetters. We need to think about starting a family. And if we aren’t doing all these things simultaneously as soon as we graduate high school, we are somehow failing. Then, we spend so much time wishing we could go back to our girlhood and loudly proclaim how much we like the color pink.
I wish I could travel back in time and dress my dolls in cute clothes. I wish I would have said yes to all the times my mom would beg me to play ‘fashion show’ with her, instead of insisting that it was stupid. It wasn’t stupid. I would love to play ‘fashion show’ now.
Being a woman is a life of double edged swords, a balancing act (America Ferrera’s speech in Barbie perfectly encapsulates this). Trying to be cool, smart, approachable, and a leader all in one day. And though it is so exhausting sometimes, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
What was so amazing about ‘Barbie Summer’ is that it allowed me, and so many other women across the world, to truly see this beauty in all its messiness.
My life is full of big emotions, and that is a gift. I wake up with a dog in my arms and squeeze him before crawling out of bed. I sing my favorite songs in the shower. I get dressed and swipe on some mascara and body glitter. I strut down the street walking home from lectures because I am filled with pride that I didn’t skip that day, and so I decide that I deserve a Grande Iced Shaken Espresso (with oat milk) as a reward. I read cheesy fanfiction and find myself wondering when I will have a big epic love like the one that fills my screen. I cry and catastrophize that I will never find love (but I know I will someday). Then I call my best friends and we talk about stress and sex and the meals we have had and the books we are reading. And then I get to go to sleep and do it all over again.
I have a lot less fear about the next stages of my life– graduating college, falling in love (and inevitable breakups), aging… because it is all a part of the process. I don’t think I had this same mentality a few months ago.
There is this one particular scene where Barbie is sitting on a bench next to an old woman. To us, the audience, this isn’t special. In fact, it is something we shy away from. We have been conditioned to fear aging. A lot of people equate getting old to being undesirable and lackluster, and that is really scary. I know it is scary for me. For Barbie however, this woman’s face reflects the complexities and color of her life in laugh lines and wrinkles. Barbie calls her beautiful. The woman responds with “I know it.” It made me think about my own grandmother, who is truly beautiful to me. I thought about her wrinkles, and all the memories they carry. I look at my mom, and her mom, and pictures of her mom, and think about all the similar experiences we have shared– the only difference being time. We all have had doubts about love. We all have been asked when we want to be married and want children. Not if. We have all questioned our value and our place in this world.
My grandma gets the same joy from coffee in the morning as I do. When my mom talks to her friends on the phone, her laugh echoes in the house, as I’m sure mine does in my own small apartment. All three of us have sat in our living room and reflected on love. When my grandma talks about the feeling of having a crush, I hear myself. When my mom talks about heartbreak and first love, I hear myself. I am exactly like the other women in my family before me. I am exactly like other girls. Why would I ever try to say I am not when being a woman is so enriched with vibrancy, love, and life that I am excited to experience every day.