Ever since the release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, a particular monologue by Gloria (played by America Ferrera) has become a favourite among the audience. It represents a truth that many women are still grappling with, that many women are still in the process of realising; And it’s that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be a woman.
What does that mean? Well, it means that whoever created the blueprint or mould on how to be the “perfect” woman, set all women up for an epic fail. Everything that we as women are supposed to strive towards, is a) for the purpose of others’ comfort, hardly to nourish ourselves and b) highly contradictory.
Because like Gloria said, “You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood, but ALWAYS STAND OUT and ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL.”
This line left me with an emotional concussion. As a former people-pleaser, who also happens to be a woman, I grew up constantly shrinking myself to accommodate the egos and emotions of the people around me.
So unfortunately, I learnt how to downplay my accomplishments and qualities in front of my girlfriends at a very young age. Because I was taught that self-deprecating jokes and never speaking of yourself too highly is how you maintain a sense of sisterhood with other women. When I was a young teenager, I quickly realised that the world conditions women to “humble” each other.
Many young women grow up discouraging each other (misogyny at its best, right?). And sadly, any woman that tries to rebel against this is seen as public enemy number one. So, for the longest, I feared women seeing me as a threat.
Then when I got older, I realised the immense pressure that was placed upon me (and every woman around me) to be attractive to men, to cater to the male-gaze. Our society has been built in a way where women are rewarded for being attractive to men. But once again, we can’t be TOO attractive, because It’ll either bruise a man’s ego if he feels that you might be out of his league or be a “valid” reason for his disrespect towards you.
So, how are women really supposed to exist? Actually, we barely do. Most women sacrifice so many parts of themselves to be the “Ideal” woman that they are left with very little for themselves! To be a woman is to exist with soul-crushing expectations and pressure to keep everyone happy and satisfied. And for what? For a sliver of respect?
America Ferrera AKA Gloria’s monologue is like someone is grabbing you by the shoulders and shouting at you and telling you that you’ve spent 90% of your life bending backwards for others, that every woman around you has done the same, and it’s still not enough.
No wonder the dialogue has gotten so much praise. It holds up a mirror to women about their lives; As it did for me. I realised how women are held to such poor, double standards!