Alumni Careers Manager Konstantina Dee looks at the key career lessons from the Barbie movie. Please note this blog contains spoilers and quotes.
Barbie made history at the box offices in late July, making it the biggest debut ever for a film directed by a woman, Greta Gerwing. So, the following weekend, dressed in hot pink (yes, there are photos proving this) with my feminist hat on, I queued to enter the theatre.
I thought that the hype around the cast, the production, the design, the music and choreography, the director, is well justified. I loved it. There are various discussion points raised by the creators of the film - feminism, capitalism, existentialism, parenthood, to mention a few, and of course for me it was all about careers.
Here are my career takeaways:
Be anything you want to be
“Barbie is a doctor, and a lawyer, and so much more than that” - Barbie shares with Gloria, the mother from the real world and her teenage daughter, Sasha.
Referring to the 1960s Barbie doll, this message is relevant to all. You can be anything you want to be as long as you put your mind to it and have a plan. You can be the Consultant or the Digital Transformation Lead you’ve dreamt of before you joined the course at WBS. Have your long-term objective in mind and plan what tangible actions you can do today which will take you closer to your dream job. Don’t let the economic downturn bring you down; your career is in your hands. Why not re-visit the Managing Your Careers Online Module or get in touch with us at email@example.com?
Find a mentor
“She’s not dead. She’s just having an existential crisis” - Weird Barbie declares when the other Barbies see the Stereotypical Barbie (played by Margot Robbie) lying face down on the floor. Dealing with issues like thoughts of death, flat feet, and cold showers, Barbie is a need of help. She finds a mentor in Weird Barbie and with her support Barbie goes through the challenges she encounters.
A mentor is helpful when you go through career challenges – job loss, career change, dealing with a difficult team etc. The mentor can guide you and support you in making a sound decision - they listen and understand and share their own insights and experiences with you without any judgement.
You can find out more about the WBS Global Mentoring Scheme here.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Barbie starts comparing herself to the people in the real world and believes she is “not good enough for anything.” To which Gloria exclaims: “You are so beautiful and so smart and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough.”
Don’t compare yourself to others. You have your own career path and you have the opportunity to be creative and use your imagination to draw this.
In Barbieland everything is perfect for Barbie, every day is a good day, but in the real world, Gloria faces a different reality. It is a poignant moment:
“Like we have to always be extraordinary. But somehow, we are always doing it wrong…You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people...You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s contradictory, and nobody gives you a medal, or says thank you! And it turns out, in fact, that not only are you doing everything wrong but also everything is your fault.”
Life does feel like this at times and I guess not only for women. But whenever it happens and however you feel about yourself, you be resilient and keep going. If your Stereotypical Barbie can do it, so can you!
Remember there is more than one world
Weird Barbie’s challenge to the Stereotypical Barbie is “You have to go to the Real world. You can go back to your regular life, and forget any of this ever happened. Or you can know the truth about the universe.”
When you are focused on our own life, on your own career, on your own company, it is possible that you forget there are other realities out there. Knowing more about them might encourage you to refocus or rethink your priorities. Being open might help you find an alternative career which you have not considered before. Equally, when you are dealing with a job rejection, try to see the perspective of the interviewer or understand why the CEO refused you the job promotion.
Ken (played by Ryan Gosling) is also dealing with his existential crisis. He does not know who he is without Barbie. His self-worth comes from being with Barbie and his day is a good one only if Barbie looks at him. For Kent “it is Barbie and Ken. There is no just Ken.” The male doll links his identity to Barbie (his partner) but also to his job. When he is examined by the Barbie Doctors, he confirms “My job…it’s just Beach” (check out the mimes) and he gets such a boost when the achievements of his job are validated by Barbie: “And what a good job you do at Beach.”
Psychologists use the term 'enmeshment’ where the boundaries between one’s job and one’s identity merge and we find it difficult to think of ourselves outside our career and, in this context, outside the relationship. If this is the case, your self-esteem can be seriously impacted should the job or the relationship end.
Barbie teaches us: "What if it’s Barbie and it’s Ken?" You should maintain your sense of self outside the job and outside the relationship. Ken got that and dances in the sold-out hoodie with a slogan “I am Kenough”.
WBS provides career and professional development support to all alumni. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.