Feeling Alive and Crying at the Movies

By Kayla ColemanOctober 2, 2023

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.

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Comments (2)

  1. Beth Coleman

    Beautiful words from a Beautiful person!!!!

    Reply  |  
  2. Sarah

    I laughed, cried, and cry-laughed at barbie also and i cried reading your post with “what was I made for?” playing in my head! they knew what they were doing when they made that movie! brings me to the conclusion that the Barbie team must be very in-tune with their own feelings with a clear understanding of emotions… to be able to make something that has made so many of us feeeel and be okay with it. towards the end I believe when barbie talks about how even crying is kind of amazing (or something like that), it made me feel grateful for a way to express sadness. like at least we get to cry and get to let it out sometimes/when we need to! and compared to not feeling anything ever, I guess even feeling sad or hurt and crying about it is appreciated. I’m glad you are the way you are and that you agree 🙂 I wouldn’t want you to be less sad or less excited or happy when it’s called for. I’m proud of you for handling that movie more than once, it’s intense! probably more so for us gals but anyway.. my sister and I also used to play with barbies all the time (so fun!!) and I also had a Barbie cake like yours! my mom made it for me when I was young, maybe 5 or so? and I just remember not wanting her to put my real Barbie in the cake and get her all messy and gross lolol I’ll have to post a pic also! 💛🩵🩷

    Reply  |  
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