If Barbie went to therapy- a shrink’s review.
I just saw Barbie, and here is what I noticed as a psychiatrist..
When our basic needs for belonging and meaning are challenged -how do we go about rectifying it?
There were so many important themes in Barbie- but here is what stood out to me. I found it interesting how “stereotypical” Barbie experiences her emotions. Stereotypically, women, when experiencing significant distress, can show symptoms of internalizing disorders”-depression, anxiety, panic. On the other hand, men, exhibit “externalizing” symptoms -with their unrelenting sadness and grief turning outwards-and manifesting as irritability and sometimes, in extreme cases as aggression and violence towards self and or others. The underlying causes may be the same-need for validation, to be seen, respected (Ken was desperately longing to be loved by Barbie and respected by the world “Can you believe she asked me for the time”).
Barbie resists change and markers of aging-aka cellulite and battles the reality of imperfection and strong emotions, anxiety, panic, and even “thoughts of death”. What does it mean to be quasi-human-or even worse-being flat footed! (Go watch the move or get this reference). And the only person who actually has a morsel of sanity is considered “weird” and looks strung out .
For me, as a psychiatrist (and because art imitates life), the take-home is this-During periods of change, upheaval, uncertainty -how do we cope? How did we treat others?
Or better yet, how do we choose to cope-because coping is a choice. Do we make other people suffer for our own inability to self-regulate-subjugating them to oppression? Or do we take responsibility, and turn to friends, family and (professional help) when needed to help us find ourselves. I find Ken’s story to be reflective of what many young men (and women) are grappling with these days-finding a place for themselves, establishing their identities and self-worth-and the angst of unattainability.
My favorite line, of course, next to America Ferrari’s monologue, was actually from her tween daughter. “Even if you can’t make it perfect you can make it better.” The price of rejection, disconnection and alienation are simply too high-and we must turn to amicable and prosocial ways to find meaning and relevance.