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What Is the Barbiecore Trend—and Should We Be on Board?

What, like it's hard?

Ryan Gosling as Ken in the upcoming Barbie movie

Brief Disclaimer: I think the whole “-core” thing is a little tired and stems from a mixture of sociocultural unoriginality and capitalistic money-making schemes. Cottagecore, Nerdcore, etc. etc. … it’s a very “TikTok” phenomenon that seems to denote a step away from actually finding a unique sense of style, and merely commodifying pockets of fashion.

THAT SAID … Barbiecore is a pretty fun trend to behold and take part in, and if you’re on the internet at all these days, you’ve probably seen your fair share of it. I was just at Outside Lands and saw all kinds of pink-wearing Kens and Barbies, so everyone is certainly having fun with it, at the very least.

So, what the hell is it?

Barbiecore is, at its simplest, a style that relies on pinks, pinks, and more pinks. It seeks to recreate the classic Barbie aesthetic by any means possible. Bubblegum-pink high heels, pastel pink romper, hot pink G-string: it’s bringing the early 2000s back by way of aesthetic-obsessed teens, and I can’t tell if I hate or love it.

I suppose it’s the nature of fashion that old trends are reintroduced, and honestly, it’s kind of fun to see pinks being so openly adored again. Many people are claiming that Barbiecore is a new-wave feminist response to the “Not Like Other Girls” thing that was going on a while ago, and that by leaning into one’s femininity (via pinks, I suppose), they’re reclaiming their right to it. In theory, this is a very cool, very neat, very encourageable thing. It allows all kinds of people, regardless of identity, body type, or any other factors to play into a style that used to solely cater to white, skinny women.

In practice, though, it leaves a weird taste in my mouth. The current internet is a very black-and-white place where debates of all sorts fail to find the nuance in any given situation. In this case, I see some responses to Barbiecore being a total shunning of anyone who isn’t 100% on the bandwagon. Girls are made fun of and belittled for not joining in on the Hot Pink Craze, because clearly they’re trying to not be like “other girls.”

This is a problem. Some people don’t want to lean into that much femininity, not because they hate women, but because—believe it or not—some people have identities that diverge from more popular trends. Gendered expectations, no matter how you identify, can chafe at even the most Legally Blonde person in the room. To create an entire aesthetic (ughgghh, hate that word) based on one’s unabashed embrace of femininity raises standards and expectations that could be dangerously co-opted by those who don’t have your best intentions in mind. Like, ladies fellas and theybies, I think we need to start seeing when a narrative is pushing us away from each other, and towards the arms of Tradwife Chasers.

So, I think the “right” way to approach Barbiecore is to ride that aforementioned nuance. See it as a fun trend to maybe play around with if you have the money and/or interest. Don’t rag on girls you see wearing it, because they’re probably having a lot of fun pretending to be Cowboy Barbie for a day, and that’s pretty damn cool. But on the flip side, don’t rag on people who aren’t on the bandwagon, and who still don’t like wearing pinks. Don’t be annoying and say shit like, “OH, so you hate WOMEN, you hate being a WOMAN, is that it?!” Or even worse, don’t be like, “EWWW, only UGLY people avoid pinks!” (Which yes, is an argument I’ve seen. Yikes.). Don’t be on one side or another. Just be a person and let others be people, too.

And if you have a pair of hot-pink heels and don’t know when you’re gonna wear them, bitch NOW’S THE TIME, put that shit on!!! I’ll be right there with you!!!

(Uploaded by user Kitpel)

(Featured Image: Warner Bros.)

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Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).