Discover more from Nicci’s Notes
Your Weekly Dose of EEE #26: Barbie and the Consequences of Good Intentions
Also, a look at universes
Hello, and welcome to this early Dose of EEE.
Yesterday, someone asked me if we could meet this week. I thought to myself, I think you mean next week, because this week’s already o—Wait, it’s only Tuesday?
So, yeah. It’s been that kind of week.
I’ve been ruminating on about five different ideas for essays this week, but the truth is that I don’t have time to write any of them right now. I was going to republish something from 2014 with a new spin, but I went back and read it and realized how much growth I’ve done in the last (has it really been???) nine years and know that the essay will hit harder if I rewrite it completely and just include the new spin. And back to the time conundrum.
So, if all goes well, you’ll get that new-and-improved essay on Friday. Today, it’s EEE time.
What’s Exciting Me?
What time is it? Tattoo time! I’m headed down to see my favorite artist this afternoon and evening, and we’ll be designing and applying my latest tattoo. I’ve been looking forward to this for almost a year; originally the appointment was scheduled for May, but I was away and had to reschedule—and this was his first available. I’m so excited to see what we create together.
Also, a medicine one of my kiddos has been waiting for for years is finally out of clinical trials and into her treatment plan. And I’ve got some feels about it. I’ll say more in that essay I was telling you about—but this is a big, meaningful, emotional deal.
What’s Entertaining Me?
📺: I was a tad late to watch Barbie, and I’m even later to write about it, but that’s okay. Because I think this is a film that needs to stay in the collective consciousness.
I’m not going to review this movie.already did a fantastic job reviewing it and also addressing some of its more stodgy critiques (see below).
What I will say is that, anecdotally, many of my friends and I found ourselves emotionally moved by watching this film. Greta Gerwig did a fantastic job capturing the “What? The world is totally equal now!” denialism of our society in a way that is both entertaining and enlightening (get it?). My two girls, who turned 10 and 12 this summer, both enjoyed the movie and felt emotional watching it, as well.
Two moments stood out to me in particular, though I can’t remember which happened first chronologically.
First is Gloria’s (America Ferrera) speech about the paradox of being a woman. It’s been quoted all over the internet, including in Susan’s post, linked below, and I won’t include the entire thing here. But the gist is—as women, we are constantly being judged and we never reach that Goldilocks moment of “good enough.” There’s always something that people aren’t going to like about us, and since likability is the capital we have to work with, we then direct our attention toward fixing the unlikable things rather than finding the strength to love ourselves as we are and focus on our real work in the world. (There are exceptions. Obviously. But I’ve only met one in real life.)
And then there’s another moment. I don’t know who said it or the context in which they said it—maybe it was the ghost of Ruth, Barbie’s creator?—but the gist was: Barbie was the ultimate feminist toy. It was intended to show girls that they could grow up to be something other than “mom.” They could be astronauts and veterinarians and tax accountants and any number of other professions.
There is valid criticism of Barbie. But Mattel has also worked to correct their shortcomings with respect to these dolls over time, and maybe Barbie doesn’t deserve to be thrown out with the bath water for focusing on one design feature while forgetting some important others.
📖: Still reading A Bend in the Stars by Rachel Barenbaum! I am enjoying it, but the week has been so busy I haven’t gotten much farther. Still recommend it for anyone who loves nerdy historical fiction!
🎶: I’m Just Ken. Just because. The term “blonde fragility” will not leave my brain. 🤣
📝:had me thinking this week with his post about expanding universes. He used two or three examples of how fantasy stories often focus on a very tiny setting and then zoom out so the reader/viewer can see the larger universe. As I was reading, I thought of some of my favorite series and realized every single one of them does this:
Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke and the related series by Clarke and Gentry Lee
Silo by Hugh Howey
I recommend them all, of course, as well as Justin’s newsletter(s) for anyone interested in the business and craft of writing. Does your favorite book/series start with the tiny and zoom out to the expansive?
What’s Enlightening Me?
I think most of what I said about Barbie above could have been said here too. But I also wanted to leave you with a six-word story I wrote for one of my Substack friend, Sam’s () prompts several weeks ago. I share it here because it will feed into the essay I hope to finish for you by Friday.
Funny how impossible eventually becomes mundane.
Chew on that, and I’ll see you in a couple of days.