I’m a Barbie girl, in a man’s world: How Barbie movies teach female empowerment


In the full year since the COVID-19 pandemic started, many of us have been forced to reconsider how we view the things most important to us and how we view ourselves. It seems like throughout quarantine, there have been countless trends on social media of people using their free time to explore or revisit themselves and their hobbies. 

Barbie Mattel continues to release inclusive dolls, with the latest models featuring vitiligo dolls, dolls with no hair, and disabilities.

One of the ways people have been restructuring their routines is through their makeup, posting tips and tricks for makeup looks with masks or what products are even necessary in our post-COVID-19 world.

However, I think the biggest change in how I view wearing makeup post-pandemic isn’t the “how,” but the “why.” Sure, things like masks change how we wear makeup—I haven’t bought lip gloss in months—but I see the way COVID-19 has changed the reasons I wear makeup as so much more profound.

I’ve had trouble in the past reconciling my love of “girly” stuff, like makeup—did I actually like these things, or was our culture just telling me I should? Did I actually enjoy something that is seemingly drilled into girls’ heads constantly? Young girls grow up in this weird paradox: they are told that if they wear makeup in professional and social settings they’ll be respected, yet even when they do, women are still constantly judged on their appearance first and foremost, always compared to one another and told they’re not enough. There are million dollar industries that profit off this insecurity instilled in women, makeup being an obvious example.

A year ago, if you were to ask me why I wore makeup, I would probably pause, then say something like, “I just feel like I should,” or, “Well, I always do.” I wore makeup on a regular basis, not because I loved to, but because it just felt right. But, when the pandemic hit, we weren’t leaving our houses and, suddenly, there wasn’t that pressure to wear makeup every day. 

Without that pressure, I’ve found that I can explore the reasons I legitimately like doing my makeup. I think less about looking presentable to others, and more about how I like how I look for myself. Realizing that I can wear and experiment with makeup for myself and not for anyone else has been one of the most positive results that have come out of this otherwise difficult year.

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