For those who grew up in the early 2000s, with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on a loop and extra short miniskirts, the return of Barbie as today's muse is totally a thing. With the expected release of the live-action movie directed by Greta Gerwig - which will star Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling - less than a year away, it seems like our vision has gone pink. The Barbie movie certainly has had an influence, but it may have also been the effect of the Valentino Pink PP Collection, the girly turn of Kim Kardashian, or the post-pandemic desire to embrace more refined and feminine looks. Whatever the reason, the Barbiecore aesthetic in all its pink-ness is having an unexpected resurgence in popularity.
We have to thank the fashion industry for the return of Barbiecore: runways and red carpets have had an influx of hot pink. According to data collected by Klarna, search results for pink items have resulted in an increase in purchases. Pink mini dresses have seen an 970% increase in sales and pink swimsuits have seen a 682% increase in the past six months. Pinterest also reported that their site showed a 75% search increase in "Barbie Outfit.”
Be careful not to fall into stereotypes, the pink revolution takes the prototypical idea of the white, blonde, dizzy, snobbish and superficial "doll chick" and transforms it into an inclusive and joyful form of feminism capable of combining shades of eyeshadow, emancipation and freedom. The Barbiecore aesthetic is in many ways ironic, deliberately excessive, even irreverent. It sort of expresses the desire for joy and lightness that is shared by everyone after the health emergency of Covid-19 and all the current events that are brutally changing our lives.
Barbiecore is not simply an aesthetic. And not even a mere "nostalgia operation". It aims to become an ode to feminism, to beauty, to diversity, to inclusion. To break down stereotypes and prejudices (no, pink is not a girly colour). Add years of battles for emancipation and inclusion to the present feeling and you find yourself with an increasing number of women who, in contrast to the past, returned to explore hyperfemininity as an act of resistance against a culture that considered everything remotely feminine to be weak.
The Barbiecore aesthetic also draws from drag and queer culture. It does not want us all white, thin, blonde and blue-eyed. Barbiecore is for people of different sizes, colors, genders and backgrounds, it inspires people to break out of the mold to wear (and be) whoever they want.
We shouldn’t deny ourselves the pleasure of wearing cute, pink and sexy clothes because we are afraid of not being taken seriously by men. It’s their problem if they can't see past the colour that we are wearing. It is right and even liberating to choose the things you really like, regardless of how society views you.
The new fashion trend then carries very important messages, which are revealed only to those who know how to observe more carefully. In short, the Barbiecore aesthetic might seem like something superficial, but it most definitely isn’t.
Written by Miriam Tagini