From dreamland to awareness: Barbie awakens, evolves, and breaks stereotypes | Inquirer Opinion

From dreamland to awareness: Barbie awakens, evolves, and breaks stereotypes

As I struggled to shake off my drowsiness, the opinion piece “Barbie turned woke,” (, 7/27/23) published by the Inquirer, surprisingly woke me up in a way that Ryan Gosling’s chiseled physique never could!

The “Barbie” movie has ignited a fiery storm of debates and reactions, dividing audiences and critics alike. Some hail its audacity to delve into modern sociopolitical themes, while others see it as a misstep in portraying the iconic doll.

Barbie, a beloved symbol of beauty and dreams, has woven her way into millions of hearts worldwide. The movie’s “risky” choice to transplant her into the real world, with all its complexities, may have disappointed those seeking a nostalgic escape to her enchanting dreamland, but storytelling needs to evolve alongside society. As a cultural icon, Barbie can’t remain untouched by the times we live in. Embracing current social issues, the film seeks to resonate with a new generation hungry for more meaningful narratives.


Though some “woke” themes may not resonate with all, cinema has always been a platform for exploring and confronting societal matters. Barbie’s iconic status, as a character who has traditionally represented a particular ideal of beauty and success, holds immense importance due to her profound impact on popular culture and young minds. Over the years, Barbie has transformed from a simple toy to a powerful symbol of empowerment and inspiration. She represents confidence and is a role model for kids, especially girls, encouraging them to pursue their dreams.


But in our fast-changing world, traditional ideas of beauty and success are evolving, embracing new perspectives, and breaking stereotypes. By placing Barbie in a scenario where she needs to “learn” and adapt to contemporary norms, we open up an avenue for meaningful conversations about inclusivity, diversity, and personal growth. This narrative shift acknowledges the evolving perspectives on beauty, success, and self-expression that are shaping society. It allows Barbie to confront the challenges of the modern era and encourages her audience—especially the young ones—to embrace change, adaptability, and acceptance of oneself and others.

Film director Greta Gerwig’s transformation of Barbie reflects a broader societal awareness of the need to challenge established norms and promote positive role models that can adapt to the times. By presenting Barbie with the opportunity to learn and grow alongside her audience, toy manufacturers and storytellers can instill valuable lessons about empathy, open-mindedness, and the importance of self-discovery.

The opinion piece previously mentioned also calls for an end to “wokeness in Hollywood,” claiming it is “not normal at all.” This kind of mindset is a call to regress, to exclude voices and experiences that are integral to creating a more inclusive and compassionate society. Movies have evolved to encompass a broader range of backgrounds, allowing marginalized groups to see themselves on screen and be celebrated. While some may perceive this as “not normal,” the definition of normalcy is evolving, and the push for greater inclusivity aligns with the changing social dynamics of our modern world.

Labeling the movie as “woke propaganda” might oversimplify matters. Films have long mirrored societal shifts, with creators weaving relevant themes to make a powerful impact. It’s essential to discern genuine attempts to address pressing issues from instances where social messaging overshadows storytelling. We, film consumers, should consistently encourage filmmakers to uphold a standard that allows cinema to continuously inspire, provoke, and deeply connect with future generations. In doing so, we can cultivate a cinematic landscape that not only entertains, but also encourages positive change in society.

Ralph Revelar Sarza

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TAGS: Barbie, Letters to the Editor

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