When Forbes released the list of the world’s most powerful women of 2023, seeing Barbie on the list was undoubtedly unanticipated. However, the outrage and controversies sparked by the Barbie movie released earlier this year are complete evidence of Barbie’s power and influence on society.
According to Forbes Magazine, money, media, impact, and domains of influence were the merits used to construct the 2023 Power List. For political leaders, they considered GDP and population; for business executives, they considered revenues, values, and personnel counts. All media mentions and social reach were examined.
By this merit, Barbie stands as one of the most powerful women of 2023, garnering the title of the highest-grossing film of 2023 with a gross sum of $1.4 billion since its release in July. Though the film revolved around Barbie and her aspirations to fully discover herself rather than merely fulfilling society’s expectations, the film sparked conversations about the portrayal of men and the meaning of feminism. Through these conversations, we gathered male reactions to the Barbie movie, and while some were positive, a few remained negative.
The Barbie brand as a pacesetter
When you hear the name Barbie, only one thing comes to mind: a doll. Barbie has been an iconic figure of personality and individuality since its inception. By depicting that a girl can be whatever she desires, Barbie is even argued to be a feminist icon.
Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has evolved remarkably, adapting to shifting contexts while maintaining her core identity as a symbol of strength. From her roots as a classic fashionista to roles like astronaut, scientist, and businesswoman, Barbie continues to embody versatility. Her impact extends beyond the toy industry, influencing broader conversations about identity, self-expression, and the limitless potential of every child. As an influential figure, Barbie continues constructing the empowerment narrative, encouraging young people to dream large and embrace the concept that they can be anything they want.
The evolution of Barbie
In the early 1950s, the options for play dolls were limited to baby-shaped dolls like the Dollys and Friends paper dolls, Betsy Wetsy, Chatty Cathy, and Tiny Tears. These dolls mirrored society’s ideologies and expectations of girls only growing up to be mothers and caregivers. Ruth Handler saw this gap in the doll franchise, and like any mother, she wanted more options for her daughter.
Barbie creator Ruth Handler with an assortment of Barbie and Mattel products (1961) via Wikipedia
Ruth Handler shared with her husband, Elliot Handler, co-founder of the toy company Mattel, an idea for a doll that was not shaped like a baby but instead was shaped like an adult with a personality. On a trip to Europe with her family in 1956, she saw a German adult-like doll, Bild Lilli, which was exactly what she had in mind. Ruth Handler purchased three Bild Lilli dolls, gave two to her children Barbara and Kenneth, and then took one to Mattel. Her idea was enthusiastically accepted by the Mattel board of directors.
Bild Lilli Doll Via Wikipedia
Barbie officially debuted in 1959 and significantly contributed to the fashion, toy, and animation industries. In 1984, Barbie became a multimedia company, racking up millions of dollars through related merchandise like accessories, games, movies, clothes, and friends and relatives of Barbie, especially the Ken Doll.
Original Barbie Doll via Wikipedia
From being sold in a zebra-striped swimsuit to being made available in blonde and brunette and an assortment of races, the Barbie doll has grown to possess over 250 jobs, all while changing women’s perceptions of their abilities as women and as people.
Unlike many other toys and animated or live-action films, Barbie has a long history of changing the narrative. From nurturing self-expression through diverse fashion styles and careers to challenging gender roles and stereotypes that subjugate women, Barbie breaks down barriers and instils the belief that girls can excel in any field they choose.
Shonda RHimes, Helen Darroze, Kayta Echazaretta, Hui Ruoqi, and Bebe Vio as Barbie for The Barbie Dream Gap Project.
Undoubtedly, Barbie is one of the most powerful women in the world. Though she is a mere doll, this doll has much power underneath her plastic interior and has managed to spark conversations that will last a lifetime. She might not be a living being, but she stands as an icon holding 250 jobs while inspiring the next generation of young women to be and do more than just be caregivers. So, we certainly agree with Forbes Magazine that Barbie is one of the World’s Most Powerful Women. Do you agree?