A close up of America Ferrera as Gloria in 'Barbie'
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

America Ferrera’s Powerful ‘Barbie’ Monologue Highlights the Tightrope Women Walk Every Day

I cried both listening to this monologue and re-reading it.

I’m not the first person to praise the excellent dialogue found in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and I definitely won’t be the last. The film, starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, takes these two iconic dolls and gives them dueling existential crises. Barbie is trying to figure out what she was made for while Ken is trying to find an identity outside of being an accessory to Barbie.

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The film as a whole is a beautiful celebration of women (and men, despite what some weirdos on the internet may think) and the writing is a major reason why Barbie has resonated with so many people. And of all the emotional moments in Gerwig’s masterpiece, the most significant one comes from, not surprisingly, the human character Gloria (America Ferrera).

**Barbie movie spoilers ahead!**

Ferrera breaks down just how hard it is to be a woman

Just before the climax of the film, the Barbies and their human companions (Gloria and her daughter Sasha) are feeling despondent. The Kens have taken over Barbieland with their idea of a patriarchy (which has a lot more to do with horses than the real patriarchy does). The Barbies, once scholars, doctors, and even presidents, have been stripped of their autonomy and made to wear French maid uniforms while serving the Kens beer.

It’s quite a 180 from the original Barbieland, where the women were in charge while the Kens were just hanging out. But, the big difference between Barbieland and Kendom is that the Barbies never wanted to take away the Kens’ identities or agency. They were just there to be companions, but they could do whatever they liked. The Kens, on the other hand, used the patriarchy to completely dominate the Barbies, making them shells of their former selves.

Ryan Gosling as Ken in 'Barbie'
(image: Warner Bros.)

So, it’s no wonder Robbie’s Barbie slips into a depression, as she feels like she’s not “good enough” to fight back against the Kens and waits for a “smarter Barbie” to take care of the problem. At her absolute lowest, Barbie tells Gloria that she’s “not smart enough to be interesting. I can’t do brain surgery. I’ve never flown a plane. I’m not president. No one on the Supreme Court is me. I’m not good enough for anything.”Gloria, who has lived and seen the troubles human women go through every day, is quick to tell Barbie she’s beautiful and smart, adding “It kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.”

From there, Gloria launches into a monologue that makes me cry just reading it (you can check out the full text here). Gloria highlights the everyday contradictions women have to go through every single day. Some of my personal favorites include: “You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. Never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line.”

Being a woman in 2023 has so many challenges. I love being a mother and having a career, but I constantly feel the pressure to try and have it all. If I let one of these aspects of my life drop in any way, I’m looked at as a failure. We as women are told to subscribe to certain beauty ideals but to always love the skin we’re in, and if we don’t, we’re shallow. We’re told to be sweet, but not overbearing. To be selfless, but not a pushover. To stand out from the crowd, but not steal the spotlight. Every single choice we make on a minute-by-minute basis is a constant struggle of “Am I doing too much? Too little? Not enough?”

Our rights are continuously stripped away by men who would crumble if they spent just a minute walking in our shoes. But, we can’t make too much of a fuss about it because we’re supposed to be delicate flowers. It’s exhausting. And it’s complete bullshit.

Gloria, and by extension Gerwig, perfectly captures how completely taxing it is to be a woman every hour of every day. We’re complicated, messy beings who make mistakes and have individual experiences. We are 52 percent of the population but are treated as a monolith. For the first time in a very, very long time, a movie has given voice to this innately female experience. And judging from the response to Barbie, it’s a message that resonates with the audience.

So, thank you America Ferrera and Greta Gerwig for finally giving a voice to the hardships we face as women every single day. It’s a tough card to be dealt, but that’s what makes us all so tough and extraordinary.

(feature image: Warner Bros.)


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Author
Kayla Harrington
Kayla Harrington (she/her) is a staff writer who has been working in digital media since 2017, starting at Mashable before moving to BuzzFeed and now here at The Mary Sue. She specializes in Marvel (Wanda Maximoff did nothing wrong!), pop culture, and politics. When she's not writing or lurking on TikTok, you can find Kayla reading the many unread books on her shelves or cuddling with one of her four pets. She's also a world class chef (according to her wife) and loves to try any recipe she can find.