If you’ve seen the latest Barbie movie, you might have noticed something unexpected: a nuanced portrayal of masculinity. The film’s depiction of Ken, Barbie’s male companion, offers a surprisingly accurate reflection of real-world issues and concerns that men face in their lives.
One of the most striking aspects of Ken’s portrayal is his reliance on Barbie’s attention and gaze. When she looks at him and shows interest in him, he lights up with joy. But when she doesn’t, he slumps into a deep sense of shame and self-loathing. This dynamic is all too familiar in clinical settings, particularly in couples’ therapy, where men often feel rejected and isolated due to a lack of attention or affection from their partners.
The movie also does an excellent job of showing how shame can quickly turn into anger and resentment. When Ken doesn’t receive the attention he craves, he tries to assert his power and authority over other men, women, or objects. This shift from shame to anger is a common one, but it’s important to find ways to express and articulate these feelings without resorting to resentment and aggression.
The movie’s portrayal of masculinity is a refreshing departure from the one-dimensional depictions we often see in popular culture. It’s essential to continue exploring and representing the complexities of men’s experiences, and Barbie certainly makes a valuable contribution to this ongoing conversation.