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  1. Blog
  2. The Pipeline
  3. July 24, 2023

On “Hi, Barbie!” & the Importance of Girl Culture Being Made Mainstream

Plus, why one woman has stayed at her company for 24 years

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I’ve been talking to friends recently about why girlhood feels so sacred to me. Amid Taylor Swift’s bejeweled Eras tour, the aggressively pink Barbie movie marketing campaign, and even the relatability of “girl dinner” on social media (and some fast-food menus), it seems like the perfect time to reflect on girl culture, and what it means to see colorful, embellished, unapologetic things that predominantly women care about be made mainstream—even if we all know it’s a ploy to get us to spend more money.

When I was growing up, being “into” girl culture was ridiculed. By virtue of having an older brother, I fell in love with Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. I learned about Halo, read sci-fi, and listened to rock. I watched football. These were the kinds of things it was cool to talk about.

I also painted my nails, created elaborate storylines for my dolls, looped Fearless, and loved to dress up. I can probably recap every rom-com made between 1989 and 2010, and my knowledge of movie musicals is even more extensive. If I were a genre of music, it wouldn’t be rock. It’d be big-hearted pop, because that’s what lights up my soul 75% percent of the time.

These are the kinds of things it was not cool to talk about, at least not in mixed company. So we did it in private—at sleepovers, while running errands with our best friends, or when getting ready together before a party. We’d save everything girly that we had to say for a space where it was safe to say it, a space where no one judged you for caring about [insert stereotypically feminine interest] and, most especially, no one expected you to defend “why it matters.” (If you’re a Fleabag fan, this is where I scream, “Hair is everything!”)

Even now, as society has become more inclusive and representative of women’s interests, I feel protective over everything under the girl culture umbrella, and that’s because I’ve spent my entire life defending my right to care about the “frivolous” and the fun. And while I feel drawn to things people of any gender might enjoy, the truth is, my center of gravity is the lifelong friendships I’ve had with women who’ve given me space to be wholly myself and that makes me want to douse myself in glitter.

It’s honestly surreal to watch millions of women in sparkly outfits happy-cry at the Eras tour or greet one another with a friendly “Hi, Barbie!” heading into the movie’s premiere over the weekend, because it feels like this secret society I’ve belonged to is suddenly everywhere screaming, “This is good, too. This is culture, too.” I love it.

As someone who thinks often about the ways we ask women to assimilate into traditionally male-dominated spaces, like the workplace, it makes me wonder how far the normalization of girl culture could reach. I don’t want to girlbossify our careers again, because that was contentious, but if I could Barbify them, I absolutely would.

You see, Elle Woods attended Harvard in 2004. She was smart, resourceful, kind, hardworking, and good at her job. The top of her class, even. And she did it all—right down to her scented resume—in pink. A Malibu Barbie. An everything Barbie. A girl with a career and a closet.

Twenty years ago, her plot felt like a pretty, plastic Dreamhouse, but now it’s starting to take root in reality. Personally, I’m here for it.

Managing Editor, InHerSight

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