2023, the year of Barbie. Since 1959, everyone’s favourite gal pal has been delighting little girls and boys, dominating the toy shop shelves and painting the world hot pink. Her slow metamorphosis from the stereotypically attractive, perky, white blonde to the inclusion of all body types, races and abilities is one that has been highly publicised and came a lot later than it should have done. So why, as someone who champions inclusivity, am I harping on about a famously unrealistic children’s toy? Well, it’s this new movie, you see. It’s out there, it’s self aware and it’s got me thinking.
I’m not one to succumb to hype. You will not find me donning a candy pink mini dress and trotting off to the local cinema with my girlfriends to envy Margot Robbie and drool over Ryan Gosling. But even I can appreciate that Barbie is taking a diamanté encrusted sledgehammer to gender roles whilst still maintaining that sugary pink aesthetic. It’s doing a fabulous job judging by the male outcry over Ken not having more of a leading role and being pushed into the background. Welcome to the world of women, but also the world of anyone who does not fit “the mould”. You’ll like it here. Everyone loves each other, no one mansplains and we keep our legs an unselfish distance apart on the tube. It’s bliss. And in our world, a veil is not a female prerogative. Veils are romantic, veils create stunning photos, veils make us feel powerful, veils make us feel beautiful, veils are feminine, veils are masculine and veils help us express who we are. So if your dream veil looks like the inside of the Barbie Dreamhouse wardrobe, let’s make it happen. If your dream veil is studded with details as dark and rich as a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon after a long day, let’s do this. If you don’t know what your dream veil looks like but you know it’s not plain white, I’m on board.
Barbie also represents a fresh take on tradition and I’m all for it. You may herald from a very traditional and conservative family that would be heartbroken to see you walk down the aisle without a veil. You might also be the sort of person who would rather endure root canal than wear a classically plain veil. A bespoke, hand painted veil can offer you a happy medium: all the tradition of a typical veil but with your own personal twist. You can please dear old Grandma with a cathedral length veil over your classic gown, but have it painted fluorescent orange like the face paint you wore at your first Ibiza club night, go as inky black as the depths of your Gothic soul or even have a border of little pink hearts because you really are a Barbie girl in a Barbie world. Your veil is an opportunity to show everyone who you are, have fun and do something for you, all without upsetting the family. You might even choose to forgo the veil and instead have a cape (it’s the same principle, Grandma, just a few inches lower). You do you, and you do it with aplomb.
So there we have it. On the surface, Barbie might be the hit of the summer and an escape into pretty, pink paradise for a couple of hours. However, for me and for countless others, it represents more than that. It represents individuality, inclusivity, playfulness, fun and being your most authentic self, which is no mean feat for a girl made of plastic. So take her lead and be the Barbie that you want to be, wear the veil that you want to wear, push those boundaries and do it with your head held high.
To quote the wonderful Dave Grohl, “No one is you, and that is your power.” That, and a veil as unique as you. Your veil, your way, and if Grandma’s got a problem with that, you give her my number.