Like many many people, I’ve seen the movie Barbie (2023). And I loved it—enough to see it
two three times and counting so far. (I tell everyone to call me if they need someone to go see it with.) I went in believing that it would be this fun movie and I’d probably shed a tear or two over the nostalgia of it all. I grew up playing with Barbies. I had a Barbie birthday cake (the one where the cake looks like a dress and the doll is right in the middle). But what I didn’t expect to experience while or after viewing the film was this wave of aliveness.
If you haven’t seen the movie, what are you doing? Stop reading and go see it and then come back—cause I’m about to drop a spoiler. You’ve been warned.
When I saw the trailer I had a feeling that at some point Barbie would experience emotions for the first time as she’s seen shedding a tear. I suspected that moment would probably hit hard. And it did! I was in tears! But what I was so surprised to experience was the absolute joy of feeling. I felt alive with emotions. Watching this character feel a feeling, a sad one at that, just poked something in my soul and reminded me of how wonderful it is to have feelings. To feel anything? What a joy! What a gift! To be moved so deeply by a work of art is truly a fantastic human ordeal. And it is a feeling that I no longer want to feel weird about. It’s a feeling that I want to keep experiencing and embracing.
I’ve always been sensitive or a “cryer” when it comes to media. Even as a kid, I felt hyperaware of emotions when something remotely painful happened. In one of the Rugrats movies when Chuckee is sad that he doesn’t have a mom around, my little kid brain knew the weight of his heartache. Every time I watch Inside Out, I bawl my eyes out. I get teary if a commercial is just slightly sentimental. I’ve always been moved by art. And I want to keep being moved by it.
Barbie solidified that desire to be moved. I want to keep feeling. I want to keep crying at the movies. Because to feel any emotion at all is a reminder that I am alive.
And the movie moved me in so many ways. I cried throughout the film. I cried for a week after seeing it for the first time. I cried in celebration of girlhood and in honor of the nostalgia of the doll. I held space for the hard parts of being a woman. I cherished my female friendships (the same way Barbie seems to cherish hers) which are so life-giving. I smiled big when seeing the way Gloria embraced and found joy in something that her inner child loved (the same way I am practicing embracing the things that brought me joy as a kid and in a way makes me less scared of growing up). I felt it deep in my soul when Barbie struggled to come to terms with existence in the real world. And I sobbed and found comfort in how Barbie’s creator Ruth told her she was “just right” when Barbie felt far from perfect. I kept peeling back layer after layer of meaning from a movie that may seem silly on the outside but truly had an impact on my heart. A movie that reminded me of how beautiful it is to feel, be, and exist.
And even in the moments (minutes, hours, days, weeks, months) when life is hard and it doesn’t feel like a party (“Barbie” by Aqua joke FULLY intended), there is still a movie, a song, a story, something that reminds you that you are still here.
To feel anything, even sadness and anger, can be a reminder that you exist.
I want to be moved by scenes. I want to let myself cry when I get birthday cards. I want to laugh loudly. I want to feel frustrated and upset when I’m passionate about something. To be moved by art is so powerful. It can feel a bit like magic. And crying over Barbie made me feel that magic. That gratitude of experiencing emotions.
I love this movie so much. Call me if you wanna watch it together.
People need other people. You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].