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5 Unexpected Mental Health Lessons From the 'Barbie' Movie

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Editor's Note

This is a recap of the “Barbie” movie. There will be mild spoilers beyond this point. Please proceed with caution (because we don’t want to be the ones who spoil you!)

Expect the unexpected when watching the “Barbie” movie. It’s a laugh out loud trip down memory lane, with a plot of surprising depth. Here are the top five life lessons I am taking with me after watching this standout film.

1. Own Your Weird 

“Weird Barbie” (played by SNL alum Kate McKinnon) was crucial to the plot. She knew she was different than the others, and she knew people nicknamed her “Weird” Barbie. She also knew was smart. She held information and ideas that helped her fellow Barbies. She knew exactly what was necessary, even before it was needed.

What if we were to own the qualities that make us different, that might not be considered “normal” in our world? In my case, these could include memorizing and creating maps, flexibility, and being silly.

Maybe we’d live with more compassion and grace.

2. Stay Open to Learning and Growth

Ken is a learner and evolves so much throughout the two hour film. When he got into the real world, all he wanted to do was learn. He was proud of what he found out and wanted to bring it back to the other Kens, so he could better their world too. Though the results weren’t always great, he had good intentions. He truly wanted to learn anything and everything, so he could become happier and feel more whole.

It’s so important to continue to learn and grow, no matter what age or stage you are in life. What do you want to learn about?  You may experience failure along the way, which is good practice for bouncing back. Maybe you’ll find some contentment in the learning process too.

3. New Beginnings

Ruth Handler created the Barbie doll. Her philosophy was that “through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be.”

If your symptoms are flaring up, you can write that text to ask for help. If you are in a job that just isn’t right anymore, you can take a step to update your resume.

We are never stuck, even when it’s dark, and we never need permission to do what’s best for us. Put that on repeat.

4. “Ordinary Barbie” 

What if we stopped seeking to be “Stereotypical Barbie” and started looking to be “Ordinary Barbie?” So many of these Barbies in the movie are sturdy leaders. All of our gifts are needed at different points of time, and they can seem “ordinary.”

Ordinary Barbie probably experiences some of the symptoms you do. I bet she can’t decide what to eat for dinner and she has a hard time getting out of bed. I just want to be ordinary, and what if ordinary contains all the feelings of being human?

5. There’s Always a Dreamworld 

Barbieland was a dreamworld for the Barbies. We can all have our own versions of a dreamworld in our minds. Right now, I’d like mine pink, full of books, trashy TV, and therapists.

“But never forget, the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that.”

Acknowledge the symptoms you may face alongside your dreams. Both do exist.

What does your dreamworld look like, feel like, sound like? Maybe it becomes a safe place you come back to in your mind during the toughest of times.

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures YouTube

Originally published: August 2, 2023
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