In today’s episode of Holistic Health Radio I take a deep dive into the new Barbie Movie and the themes it touches on including body image, self-esteem and societal expectations. In this episode I discuss:
- The unrealistic body standards of Barbie
- The contrast between Barbie Land and The Real World and how this mimics a lot of themes between girlhood and adulthood
- The pressure we place on ourselves due to societal expectations as presented in America Ferrara’s monologue
- Discussion of how social pressures can play out and influence our relationship with food, exercise and our body
- Why improving self-esteem and self-worth is a cornerstone of healing from disordered eating or an eating disorder
Episodes mentioned within this podcast that are worth a listen:
Hi everyone, welcome back to Holistic Health Radio. I’m your host, Sarah-Liz King. I’m an exercise physiologist and health coach empowering you to find your healthy balance with food, fitness, and your body. Through my one-to-one and group coaching programs, both myself and my team help women regain their periods, find food freedom, and have a healthy relationship with exercise all while gaining body confidence. Now, my titles give away…
every single podcast episode today is all about Barbie the movie. So if you have not watched the movie yet, there are definitely going to be some spoilers ahead. So if you’re still wanting to go watch the movie, maybe press pause, go listen to another one of my episodes and then come back after you have seen the movie. For those that have seen the movie, today is going to be a little bit of a discussion around the main themes in Barbie.
which I think are really relevant to anyone, well, any woman. But in particular, I’m gonna talk about the main themes today that might be relevant, particularly if you are on a journey of healing your relationship with food, with exercise, and with your body. And I think when we think of Barbie, we often think about body image and how that’s kind of.
threaded into obviously the development of the Barbie doll itself, but then also into the movie. And I think we can all agree that if we look at the Barbie doll itself, it is an incredibly unrealistic expectation of how a woman’s body can be. How do we know this? If the Barbie was an actual human being, her proportions literally couldn’t exist. And
nobody walks on their tippy toes and has a waist that small, a bust that big and hips that size. It just doesn’t work. But I think one of the things a lot of people are talking about is whether or not Barbie dolls themselves have influenced girls’ self-esteem. And I, before watching the movie, I kind of wanted to like hate it going in because I thought it was going to be this
continuous, I guess, proliferation of the fact that the body size was gonna be the most important thing threaded throughout the movie. And I’m really glad that I was wrong in that respect. But I think in terms of the research, if we’re trying to look for a causative effect between girls playing with Barbie dolls or girls looking at Barbie dolls and having negative self-image, low self-esteem,
we actually cannot find a causative direct relationship. I think what we can say is unrealistic body standards are definitely perpetuated by things like the Barbie doll. And even when Mattel tried to produce a more diverse range of Barbies that had different body sizes, they labeled them as kind of curvy Barbie. And it kind of makes us wonder like,
Why did they have to make that differentiation between body shapes? Why couldn’t they just make that more diverse range of Barbies and just call them another Barbie? Now in the movie itself, how we and also how the world perceives our body is shown through the, I guess, differences that you see between Barbie land and between the real world.
So in Barbie land, we see that every day is the best day. Yesterday was the best day, today is the best day, tomorrow is gonna be the best day. Cellulite doesn’t exist, everyone walks around on their tippy toes. And Barbie land is actually the representation of girlhood. So when we are young, we have this blissful experience where we are unaware of all of the societal pressures around us.
and all of the societal expectations around our bodies. Our bodies can just be, and instead we can focus on all of our other pursuits and passions and interests, which is what you see in Barbie land. Girls are able to do anything and be anything. And like I said, every day is the best day. So there are kind of like no consequences of…
of girlhood and hopefully you know you got to experience some of that in your own life and I think this sits really starkly in contrast to when Barbie, Margot Robbie enters the real world. Now the real world in the movie is what represents adulthood where we have so much more awareness of our bodies and how they are objectified.
Not only that, Barbie becomes so much more aware of her quote unquote perceived flaws, like the cellulite, the fact that she has flat feet, and also like the fleeting thoughts of death that she is having all represent the fact that when we grow up, we have to face all of these things that are kind of, I guess, the truth about being an adult. And.
I think it’s this really stark contrast that makes you realize that girlhood is so bittersweet and that moving into adulthood throws you into this vortex of having to face so many different expectations. Some of those might feel like internal expectations. Maybe you have a predisposition to being a little bit of a perfectionist, like that’s definitely me.
but then there are also these huge external influences of our culture, such as the beauty, body, and societal standards of what we quote unquote should be. And one of the things I think the movie highlighted was that these societal expectations that we all feel in regards to all of the above, is perfectly highlighted when America Ferrera does her.
monologue and she plays Glory in the movie and I am going to read out that monologue because I think every person who watched the movie definitely took something away from this monologue and then after I read it out I’m going to discuss some of the things I think it brought up for me in terms of like the work that I do and my own personal experience of recovering from an eating disorder. So
Again, spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen the movie, maybe pause.
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 wanna be thin. You have to say you wanna 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 be, you’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but 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’re…
or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be 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. 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 other single 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. Now for me, I guess more than anything, this monologue, I’m sure it hits home for every single person in a different way.
But for me, the thing that stood out was this impossibility of never being good enough. And I think it’s one of the stories that’s often threaded through the development of eating disorders and disordered eating, and oftentimes the behaviors that can lead to hypothalamic amylaria. And if that rings true for you, I think one of the things that you absolutely have to work on within recovery is not only giving up
kind of diet culture, but also recognizing that untangling your worth from how and what you eat and the exercise that you do and how your body looks takes a really, really long time. Because often that is tied into that never being good enough story. And when we never feel good enough and then we start to use food and exercise in our body image to make up for that, and that is reinforced by the people around us making compliments and comments and telling us that we’re disciplined.
It’s a really hard thing to let go of. And feeling good enough about yourself isn’t just kind of reversing those things. It’s not gonna be fixed just by eating more or having a more balanced relationship with exercise. It’s actually about reaffirming to yourself that you have always been worthy, not because of those things, but in spite of them. And one of the key pieces to anyone’s recovery puzzle,
isn’t just the behavioral work that you do on changing your habits around exercise or changing what you eat food-wise to re-nourish your body. It’s actually looking at those root causes around why this all started in the first place. And I think learning to appreciate your body for what it is, regardless of what it looks like, and learning how to improve your self-worth and self-esteem, they are cornerstones of anyone’s recovery journey. And
Although I could spend the rest of this episode going into detail around how you could improve those things specifically, I’m actually going to point you to three other podcast episodes that I’ve done specifically on these topics. Because I think having a whole episode that you can go sink your teeth into is going to be so much more beneficial than the small tips and tricks that I could give you today. But I think the discussion of the movie kind of highlights the impossibility of
being a woman in the society that we live in today and how it takes a lot of work to untangle that web of diet culture and societal pressures and find, or not find, but kind of reaffirm our own self-worth in different ways. So if you wanna go sink your teeth into those three different podcast episodes, I would scroll back on whatever podcast platform you are listening on. If you are watching this on YouTube, you will have to go to Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
tune into these because I don’t have them on YouTube yet. But the first one is go back and listen to episode 181 and that is with psychotherapist Natalie Rose. You can follow her on Instagram at wake up and smell the rose. Also episode 160 with Sabina McKenzie and the last one is episode 156 which I did which is how to go from hating your body to
So if that part of the monologue really hit home for you, go give those a listen. And also I would love to know your thoughts on the Barbie movie. Did you love it? Did you hate it? What were your main takeaways from it? Feel free to tag me at Sarah Liz King when you are listening to this podcast episode and let me know your thoughts in my DMs. Or if you’re watching this on YouTube.
leave them in the comments below. Again, give this a thumbs up, subscribe to the channel. It really helps support our growing channel because we’ve only just started that this year. And of course, if you are listening to this wonderful podcast on a podcasting platform like Spotify or Apple, be sure to leave a five-star rating and review. It really helps boost our podcast so more people can find it and get the help and support they deserve.
I will leave this episode here with you today. As always, I will be back next week with a fresh new episode. You can wrap your ears around, so keep looking after yourself until then.
Nice! 13 minutes!
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