I have difficulties escaping the new Mattel’s Barbie movie campaign and fall into my own renowned Barbiecore era.
This Barbie… Goes To Reality TV
First weekend of July, I find myself in the middle of a reality show set of a known Italian program with talent contestants. One of my girlfriends Claudia (and consequently my art performance teacher) is here to be a dance coach and I am to show her my full undying support. The filming set feels surreal, like a TV screen being split open and thrown right at you. Here self tan, glitter and hairspray are the three pillars of the thriving environment. I get screamed at a lot, mostly by a woman with short, spiky Barbie-esque fuchsia hair do.
My foreigner reflections consist of noting that where I am from, if you do not hit a note during your audition, people make you cry and destroy your will to live. But in Italy everyone on set abuses the word ‘bello’, so even if a contestant does not make it, life goes on, and everyone seems to be overjoyed just to be here. Loads of waiting and inability to watch young people with nerves that are about to go on stage, I have plenty of time to perfect my audience member look.
I opt for a crochet top, leopard skirt and green platforms. I am pretty sure there was a Barbie-crochet-bikini and that is the energy I am going for today. My inner Vintage-Palm-Beach-Teresa requires spotlight.
I put Glassy all over, and Burroh on my lips. Mattel Gods overtake and the next thing I know, I am splattering Burroh on my eyelids like there is no tomorrow. I want to finish off my look with a gloss, but cannot locate the old version of bOhlmy in any of my bags.
I keep searching for the Barbie-crochet-bikini but end up drooling over blush pink Miu Miu purse for the price of two months rent (also called Wander, in crochet of course). I look at my summer expenses that include moving apartments, travel and no book shopping and get confused. I ask Claudia to clarify if my memory of a Barbie-crochet-bikini is a collective lie, but she tells me it is not. I make sure I compliment her fuchsia platforms. On set I am overshadowed by one of the dance coaches in total pink, with platinum curls and what appear to be a pair of stripper heels (no judgment). I make a mental note that glitter looks good on screen.
This Barbie… ends up in Lagos
Back in Milan, in the new apartment full of cardboard boxes that still need unpacking and a tiny carry-on (tragic) that needs to be re-packed for Portugal, I invite over my favourite make up artist Alice for our monthly book club. (We are solid two members, open to anyone who is ready to ditch Tik Tok for a read). She suggests I dig into my Sweet And Sour eye palette and use Spritzy as highlight for my Barbiecore vibe this month.
She did that a few times while working at espressOh pop ups. She also seems to be proud about my Burroh as eyeshadow incident. I procrastinate by reading this NYT article about Barbie dream houses instead of organizing my own (I will find myself in the middle of existential crisis just a few hours later, unable to pack for my trip as everything summer is packed in boxes labeled ‘fashion’, with no other hint in sight).
I find out that Barbie has always been the sole owner of her properties (in times when women could barely open a bank account). The feminist energy gives me strength to roam through the chaos and find a fuchsia bikini. I miserably fail to locate the gloss. At last in Lagos, with my friend Paris, even with limited WI-FI range we cannot escape the media campaign the Barbie movie has rolled out (so much so, that Margot Robbie’s red carpet looks over shadowed whatever happened during Paris Fashion Week).
Paris tells me about her Canadian friends organizing themed parties to watch the movie and graciously lets me borrow her pink vintage Chanel sunnies. We rate the sunscreens (Skinceuticals 50 is not bad, but Supergoop Glow Stick is better. Starface 46 is the obvious winner) and day drink at the beach. I am grateful for my Oh.Sweater, it was the only warm thing that could fit into my small carry on. For the same reason my make up case was limited to Rossoh (my all time favourite).
This Barbie Misses all her Deadlines
The Barbie movie has been the most annoying (and yet effective) case of a marketing campaign. Back in June, Amy Odell from the Back Row wrote that Barbie communications will subsume us all and it feels like it should have been out a few times by now. Back in Milan I find myself doom scrolling, forwarding Barbenheimer memes (Barbie and Oppenheimer were dropped the same weekend in the US).
I see more discussions online on how this movie marketing team should join the climate movement. I end up looking at hyperfeminine aesthetics in art history. I miss a few deadlines with all the travel and moving. I try to ignore the updates from my bank account. I give in and make my husband purchase the movie tickets on day two of the premiere.
The stakes for my look are high. I expect there will be crowd that has been vomited on in fuchsia pink and glitter, and so I begin assembling for the night. I go for a fuchsia leotard, flowered mini and yellow Cult Gaia heels. I start with Hey Broh and Ragu. Glassy is out. Shortly, I let the reigns go with Spritzy. Mattel Gods are kind to me and I find the gloss. I catch glimpses as I walk into the movie theatre. Everyone is dressed as mortals. I have no regrets.
I come out of the movie theatre rejoiced. My inner child got her full face of make up and more. The movie was worth every marketing stunt, the best post feminist satire Warner Brothers could make money off. As I realise that I am thrilled to see the Cottagecore trend take over, Barbiecoring was a fun attempt to escape the reality of adulthood anyway. I recommend trying.