This week I had the opportunity to see the movie “Barbie”. I actually have a special attachment to the Barbie doll since I was just the right age to play with dolls when the original Barbie was introduced in 1959. I still have my original Barbie from that year, complete with many of her early clothes and accessories, and even the first Barbie Dream House made of cardboard, including cardboard furniture and a cardboard framed picture of Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend! When I shared this information with my granddaughter recently she seemed a little disappointed that the lights don’t go on when you open the door, a humorous reminder of how our personal filters shape our days. 😊
The movie is definitely not for small children who would miss most of the movie’s messages, and there are many. Without being a spoiler, the story is of an imaginary world, Barbie Land, where the many different Barbies and Kens all live. Thankfully Mattel over the years now makes Barbies of many shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and even Barbies with Down Syndrome and in a wheelchair. In Barbie Land the Barbies dominate their world, there able to be any profession including Supreme Court justices and President. The protagonist of the story, however, is stereotypical Barbie whose journey and interaction with the real world bring out the great difference between her world and the real world, not only for her, but also, for Ken.
Barbie Land seems perfect to the many Barbie dolls. No muss, no fuss, every day filled with fun and fulfillment. All food is pretend but enjoyable since that’s how dolls eat. No one gets hurt. Everything is plastic and pretend. Life is good in Barbie Land for the dolls, until Barbie and Ken escape to the real world and learn of its challenges. You can imagine how that clash of realities went down for we know that life here is not perfect, let alone for two people walking around dressed like life-sized Barbie and Ken dolls!
Despite real tears, a first for a Barbie doll, stereotype Barbie wants to be human (like Pinocchio and Ariel the Little Mermaid). Why, given the harsh realities she experienced in the real world?
One scene depicts Ruth Handler, the inventor of Barbie and co-founder of Mattel and its president from 1945 to 1975, showing Barbie more deeply what life is like in the real world to make sure Barbie really wants to make the choice to be human and leave Barbie Land. Rather than scenes of protests, climate change, war and destruction, the video clips focus on love, especially parental love of child, the videos showing faces of joy, happiness, a variety of human emotions. Barbie was shown what it would feel like to become human. She was shown love.
HaShem’s creations are perfect, even when perhaps seen as imperfect by human eyes for what we see is not all that has been created, or how we are seen by God. We are given the ability to make individual choices within a reality of His steadfast love, even when we have trouble feeling it.
Individual choice and Divine love. These are the overarching blessings we have been given. Our individual choices frame our reality. Our collective choices co-create our everchanging world. Our Abba ministers to us through Yeshua no matter what we choose, bringing His Love into the developing narrative. He never forsakes us no matter what, the end results and our ability to see them, however, often taking lifetimes and millennia to come to fruition and redemptive resolutions.
At one point during Barbie and Ken’s escape to the real world Barbie is moved to tears by the beauty of a very wrinkled older woman, a sight Barbie had never seen in stereotypical perfect Barbie Land. Why the tears? Rather than seeing the woman through eyes of artificial standards of perfection, Barbie was moved to tears for she saw through eyes of love. It is through our love of others that we most deeply are able to experience His Love of us. And conversely, it is through His Love of us that we are able to experience the love of others.
No matter how hot or rainy the weather, no matter what our discomfort, no matter how busy, I hope this week brings for you those deep senses of His Presence, the reality of the profound presence of Yeshua’s intimacy, which are found in the many interactions you have with those around you, and not just with family and friends. A smile of appreciation to the sales clerk, a phone call, a thank you, all share His Love. These are opportunities to love others as He loves us for with His Love we gratefully leave behind our unrealistic illusions of reality.