Barbie has quite literally, changed society for the better. Warner Bros brought out all their cards for the film’s promotions, and have gotten their due results for it. A peculiar thing that the film has done, is the rejuvenation of the color pink. Pink was no longer a girly-girl color; pink became the coolest color in town for the summer of 2023. Man or woman, the color was worn proudly. Barbie helped pink – in all its shades – be reclaimed by women as a feminine color.
Right since the set photos and the introduction of the cast, Barbie was set to be the biggest buzz of 2023. But it truly is a wonder whether or not Warner Bros and Mattel anticipated the response it would get from the world. People had seldom dressed up in a theme to watch a movie. It was easily identifiable that if you wore pink, you were there for Barbie. Even actors Margot Robbie and Cillian Murphy were appreciative of the fact that many went to watch both, in a newfound vigor and pattern of watching movies. But the whole atmosphere around and in Barbie’s screens was in stark contrast to that of its Christopher Nolan counterpart. Pink was everywhere on our screens before the release – which led to even more championing of pink after Barbie’s release.
The marketing genius behind Barbie is to blame for this. The movie found scores of companies that were willing to risk it all, to only be given a business of a lifetime. Barbie’s Dreamhouse was up for grabs at Malibu, courtesy of the film’s partnership with Airbnb. Then there’s the plethora of fashion brands – Aldo, Gap, Forever 21, even Crocs – that joined hands as well. F&B partook in the fun as well: Burger King in Brazil launched a special Cheeseburger with Pink sauce. Automobiles, a sector that steers clear from targeting women, was roped in as well. Alongside Barbie’s iconic pink convertible, luxury car giant Maserati too donned pink colors. Suddenly, everyone around the world started launching products in the hitherto-declared obnoxious shades of pink. Pink became the most in-demand color, all because of one movie.
Barbie started frontrunning pink in its dolls and accessories since the 70s. The positioning of the product now became driven at the idea that Barbie must first be attributed to the thought of pink, and vice versa. Mattel now has a Barbie pink shade from Pantone trademarked to itself, and is aptly named Barbie Pink. The doll became synonymous with girlhood, so much so that they were belittled because they played with Barbies. Some girls grew out of that phase, to a point when dolls are no longer the star attraction at toy aisles or shops. But Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, now in the run for an Oscar sweep, has revolutionized Barbie in ways that Mattel itself could never have imagined.
No one thought that a toy, that wasn’t accessible to many, could be ingrained into the minds of Gen Z. The girls that did play with Barbie are now in their late 20s and early 30s, and the movie resonated the most with them. Despite being pitted against Christopher Nolan, it was Barbie that made a cultural shift that summer. Pink was being seen with a new, more proud, and holistic perspective.
The movie shifted away from Barbie’s earlier, very recessive take on beauty. In fact, the toy was seen to be boxing female standards of beauty into Barbie’s standards. Though Barbie did make non-white dolls, they were never at the forefront of the product line. Gerwig’s Barbie threw all of that out the window. She made it a point that Barbie celebrates the idea of femininity, which was largely done via pink. The movie celebrated pink as the color of women, and encouraged brandishing of the color rather than shunning it as a girly color. Gerwig banked on Barbie’s exhaustive career line and channeled it as Barbie’s most unique feat. A product that stood for holding back women from embracing their true colors became a newfound symbol of feminism. Not the woke kind, but feminism in its truest sense. Being Barbie is now a cool thing to be, and even men agree.
Barbie was not less of a foray into nostalgia, and more of a reclamation of what it meant to be a woman. Pink had lost its status as a feminine color, especially in the last decade. Fashion, aesthetics, have all changed drastically in this period. Yet, we’re now seeing the return of Y2K fashion. Celebrities stepped into Barbiecore as well, dressed in hot pink from head to toe. Anne Hathaway, Zendaya, the biggest of stars in Hollywood turned showstoppers for the color. In fat Sebastian Stan outdid the female stars, and donned a bubblegum pink Valentino suit nearly a year before Barbie. And thanks to Margot Robbie’s iconic red carpet looks for the film, pink was redefined as a color for female strength. Robbie was confident right from the word go that her self-produced film would make heaps of money. Barbie made nearly 10 times its production budget – and changed the face of society – courtesy of the studio’s decision to do something crazy.
Beneath the showbiz, Barbie is simply about embracing the essence of being a woman. That remains at the heart of the movie and the marketing, underneath its craziness. Barbie became a clarion call for women to take in stride their association with pink, and proudly be the girliest version of themselves. A color that had been left behind in the strive to be more realistic, pink became a medium for now adult women to experience a sliver of their childhood happiness. Before labelling Barbie as women-only, people should understand what the movie means for women. Pink is a color for girls, who aren’t shying away from that claim anymore, thanks to Barbie.