This Isn’t Barbie’s First Time Onscreen: She’s Been a Movie Star for Decades

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In the animated film series featuring Barbie, the portrayal of the iconic doll has evolved over time. Initially, the script depicted Barbie as clumsy when carrying a tray in the movie “Nutcracker,” but this was changed after a meeting between the film’s producers and representatives from Mattel. According to Sheridan, one of the producers, they decided to make the change because “Barbie would never stumble.” This demonstrates the meticulous attention to Barbie’s character and the desire to maintain her image as flawless and poised.

Furthermore, in another scene where Barbie’s character, Clara, confronts the Mouse King, a Mattel representative requested that Barbie sound less angry. The reasoning behind this was that Barbie should always exhibit kindness, cleverness, and bravery, maintaining her positive qualities even when facing villains. This insistence on Barbie embodying these values is a testament to her role as a role model for young girls, emphasizing the importance of kindness and strength in the face of adversity.

However, as the film series progressed, the portrayal of Barbie gradually expanded. In the 16th film, “Barbie and the Three Musketeers,” Barbie’s character became more athletic and ambitious, engaging in sword fights. This shift demonstrates that the studio recognized the audience’s desire to see Barbie in different roles, relatable to their own lives. The audience wanted to see Barbie break away from her pristine image and engage in more comedic and lighthearted moments, allowing her to be silly and goofy.

As the mid-2010s approached, Barbie’s character experienced further development. Gone were the traditional princess gowns, replaced by pants, signifying a shift towards a more career-focused identity. Barbie began exploring space, going on spy missions, and designing video games. This evolution reflected a desire to empower girls and provide them with role models who not only exuded femininity but also pursued their aspirations and embraced non-traditional gender roles.

The impact of these changes can be seen in the work of artists like Purcy, who illustrates Barbie as various characters from the animated films. Purcy has watched 33 of the films and states that the ones set in the modern day, such as her favorite, “Barbie: Princess Charm School,” resonate with her the most. These films showcase Barbie as someone who embodies kindness, care, love, and a love for pink, while also being strong and standing up for herself. It is evident that the evolving portrayal of Barbie has resonated with audiences and has the potential to inspire young girls to embrace their uniqueness and pursue their dreams.

Overall, the evolution of Barbie’s character in the animated film series demonstrates a conscious effort to adapt to changing societal expectations and to provide positive role models for young girls. From being flawless and poised to embracing athleticism, ambition, and varied career paths, Barbie continues to inspire and empower her audience.

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