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  • Writer's pictureRamina Toma

Celebrating Womanhood: America Ferrera's Empowering Speech in the Barbie Movie

Spoiler alert - If you have not yet seen Barbie, what are you waiting for?!

In an era where the voices of women are resounding louder than ever, media and entertainment have taken on a pivotal role in driving conversations surrounding empowerment and inclusivity. A prime example of this was America Ferrera's impactful speech in the Barbie movie, directed by Greta Gerwig. Her words struck a chord with audiences, both young and old, as she used her platform to champion representation, self-confidence, and the celebration of womanhood. Tears were flowing in the theatre in any direction I turned.

A New Era for Barbie and Women

Barbie, the iconic doll that has influenced generations of children, has undergone a remarkable evolution in recent years. Recognizing the need for diversity and inclusiveness, the creators of Barbie have shifted away from traditional beauty standards, and embraced a broader array of appearances and backgrounds, which mirror the world around us! In 2019, dolls reflecting permanent physical disabilities, including a doll with a wheelchair and prosthetic leg, were added by Mattel to the Barbie line. In 2023, the first ever Barbie with Down Syndrome was released. Now, there are also over 35 skin tones, 97 hairstyles, and 9 body types & counting. This is the inclusion we need to see today!

Barbie collection
We are Barbie. The most diverse doll line.

This transformation culminated in the casting of America Ferrera, a prominent advocate for women's rights, to lend her voice to a character in the Barbie movie. Ferrera's selection for the Barbie movie was a testament not only to her vocal talents but also to her unwavering commitment to elevating women's voices and experiences. Beyond her acting prowess, Ferrera has consistently used her influence to shed light on pertinent issues. Her involvement in the Barbie movie was a natural extension of her dedication to dismantling societal norms and fostering a world of equality and empowerment.

The Essence of the Speech

At a pivotal moment in the Barbie movie, America Ferrera's character delivers a powerful speech that resonates far beyond the confines of animation. Her address revolves around themes of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and the impossible double standards of being a woman. Her character encourages women to define their own narratives, challenging conventional norms and external expectations. This message isn't confined to the movie's characters; it's a clear call to the audience to embrace their uniqueness with confidence.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Ferrera said the monologue, was “one of the first things Greta mentioned to me even before I read the script.” She said, 'I wrote this monologue for Gloria, and I've always imagined you saying this.' While that was flattering, it also felt like pressure in the nicest way. I read the monologue and it hit me as powerful and meaningful. It also felt like, wow, what a gift as an actor to get to deliver something that feels so cathartic and truthful. But it also felt like this pivotal moment that I obviously didn't want to mess up. There was a little bit of healthy pressure around it."

It took them two days to shoot the scene, and Ferrera says she probably did "30 to 50 full runs of it, top to bottom." Her favorite line, she says, is the "always be grateful" line, which she worked on with Gerwig.

Two girls in pink
Actress America Ferrera stars in Greta Gerwig's Barbie.

Empowering the Next Generation of Women

The speech has ramifications that extend well beyond the movie's runtime. It catalyzes conversations within families and communities, providing opportunities to discuss the significance of diversity, self-worth, and women's empowerment. Young viewers internalize the lesson that embracing individuality isn't just a virtue—it's an integral part of creating a more inclusive and compassionate society.

In the Barbie movie, America Ferrera's speech serves as a rallying cry for women's empowerment and a celebration of their resilience. It underscores the power of media to act as an agent of change by advocating for representation, inclusivity, and the unapologetic acceptance of oneself. As we progress, it is important to recognize that each woman's voice holds immense value and that her story is indispensable. Ferrera's involvement in the Barbie movie reminds us that, by standing up for women's rights and equality, we can contribute to a world that wholeheartedly honors the strength and beauty of womanhood.

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