Finally, Mattel Gave Us Depressed Barbie
In the film, the one Barbie we really need made a cameo. And if you're reading this Mattel, we'd like to dress her.
It's official. Barbie has made her reentrance into mainstream culture — Margot Robbie has captured our attention, we’re singing along to Ice Spice, pink is the hero color of the season, and you bet the Halloween costumes are brewing. And if you saw the movie, you know there is a bevy of Barbie personas to consider: There’s stereotypical Barbie, mermaid Barbie, Midge, the pregnant Barbie, president Barbie, doctor Barbie, and even weird, always-in-the-splits Barbie! That’s not even including all of the discontinued iterations Mattel has released over the years, such as Earring Magic Ken and Video Girl Barbie. Everyone is accounted for, right?
Of course not. This was director Greta Gerwig’s biggest hurdle: How do we convey the message that Barbie is not human? She does not, in fact, embody all of the things we can be. Gerwig addressed this quandary from many different angles over the course of her two hour film. My favorite, however, was with a cameo of Depressed Barbie.
After Barbie encounters the Real World, there’s a 2-minute ad for a doom-scrolling, in-bed, Pride and Prejudice binging Barbie. And honestly? This is my favorite Barbie. I wanted more of her. Who is she? Is she going through something, or is she a neurodivergent queen? Or both! Is she simply down due to our failing climate and economy, is she thinking too hard about her role in society, has she reached existential burn out? This Barbie is down bad — no, down atrocious — and I love her.
Depressed Barbie, who is categorically a Neurodivergent Barbie (you can even buy stickers for her), is the Barbie I need. I’d like for her to be a tiny bit manic: Sometimes she’s doing the things all the other Barbies do, like being hot on the beach, and other times she has dropped off the face of Barbieland because life is exhausting and getting a snappy Slack from her boss was the straw that broke Barbie. You know?
In the film, America Ferrera’s character comes up with an array of Neurodivergent Barbie iterations (it could be a whole franchise!), including Irresponsible Thoughts Of Death Barbie and Crippling Shame Barbie. Are you kidding me? These are my girls. I know these Barbies, I need to get wine with these Barbies, I have things to discuss with these Barbies. Mattel, you have a new collection on your hands. And if you’ll have me, I’d love to dress them. Here’s a glimpse inside the wardrobes of 3 iterations of Neurodivergent Barbie.
1. General Anxiety Disorder Barbie
Allan, a GAD Barbie.
This Barbie has panic attacks! General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Barbie is just a girl trying to show up, but sometimes she can't because she feels an uncomfortable surge of nervousness and accompanying physical symptoms coming on. Volley Ball on the beach? This Barbie cannot right now. She's busy ruminating about most things, including why the hell Ken isn't texting her back (even though she doesn't even like him), whether or not the other Barbies are mad at her, and if she left her hair straightener on at home (then she'd become, Burned The House Down Barbie!).
She finds comfort in clothes that are not too tight on her tummy (she has IBS, because that comes with anxiety), baseball caps (so that she can hide from people she doesn't want to say hi to), and cozy sweaters (anxiety Barbies get cold really easily). In the morning, GAD Barbie leaves her home in an oversized t-shirt, cap, and bicycle shorts and prays she will run into nobody. Once her cortisol calms down around 2pm, this Barbie musters up the strength to shower (Anxiety Barbie loves a midday shower). Alas, normal chemical levels have returned, for now. Anxiety Barbie slips into a cute dress, because it's an all-in-one outfit and she doesn't want to think too hard, she just has to get through the day (this Barbie is a hero).
2. Depressed AF Barbie
One-Glistening-Tear Barbie, a precursor for Depressed Barbie.
This Barbie can't get out of bed! She is sad, and while she's not exactly sure why, the clouds don't seem to be parting. Every task feels incredibly overwhelming for this Barbie, so she isn't getting much done and is certainly not driving around town in the Barbie convertible in a cute outfit waving at everyone. Instead, she's in bed wondering if she'll ever feel up to getting in the Barbie car ever again (she will). While she's trudging through her depression, Barbie needs comfort clothes. She's wearing old t-shirts (some washed, some not), pajama pants she's had since 9th grade, and a little bit of bright, tie-dye in desperate hopes that the color will give her the serotonin boost she needs.
Depressed Barbie gets out of bed around 12pm when she's really in it. She's not really in the mood to socialize, so she's just going to stay in her pajamas (fancy ones like these make her feel a little less hopeless). She really needs 3-4 sets of sweats (Depressed Barbie vehemently disagrees with Karl Lagerfeld's take on sweats) and old t-shirts to rotate, some sneakers (it helps when they aren't tattered and 10 years old) to walk to the bodega every few hours, and she's good to go.
3. Manic Barbie
Roller Blade Barbie was definitely on a manic high.
This Barbie is on a roller coaster! Sometimes she's up, other times she's in a world of doom. When she's high, this Barbie wants to take her stereotypical persona to new heights. Give her a bright red Courreges mini dress, a pair of platform heels, and let her loose. But, to best prepare for her well-predicted crash, this Barbie needs muted colors to match her mood. Soothe her with an all-black sweatsuit and make it oversized, please. This Barbie doesn't want to feel a single seam on her body, she can't even think about clothes because it will send her into an internal analysis about over consumption and late-stage capitalism. Let this Barbie rest until her next high, please.
This Barbie needs a pretty robust wardrobe to meet the needs of her varying moods. She needs on-the-town outfits, "I'm chill" summer girl dresses for when she's sloping into a low, and sweatpants for 3-5 days of catastrophic, existential darkness. This Barbie is multifaceted!
There you have it, the wardrobe breakdowns of just a few Neurodivergent Barbie. Mattel, if you're reading this, there are plenty more iterations of the Neurodivergent franchise to consider, and we'd love to discuss further.