Warning: There are spoilers for the Barbie movie in this article!
I saw the Barbie movie in theatres a few weeks ago and there is one scene that has stuck with me since then. It served as an unexpected reminder of the Plan of Salvation and the blessings that come from it.
Near the end of the movie, Barbie is alone with Ruth Handler – the creator of Barbie. Up until this point, Barbie had lived the perfect life in Barbieland. Her hair, clothes, house, boyfriend, and everything else about her life had always been perfect; void of trials or negative emotions. Her sudden thoughts of death early in the movie are what spark the rest of the plot where she travels to the real world so she can fix these thoughts and return back to her perfect life.
All is well with the world, and Barbie could go back to Barbieland and keep living her perfect stereotypical Barbie life, but she’s presented with the opportunity to become human and live in the real world. Ruth informs her that before she lets Barbie make this decision, she needs to show her what she’s signing up for when she becomes human.
Barbie closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and is shown a video montage accompanied by “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish. In this video montage Barbie sees home footage of major life events, such as a wedding day with a happy bride running off with her husband, a couple falling in love, a little girl learning to ride a bike, a woman graduating from school, clips of babies and young children, and a multitude of other joyous occasions.
A key lyric that Eilish sings during this scene is “I don’t know how to feel, but I wanna try.”
When Barbie was living her perfect life in Barbieland, she just lived the same perfect day, over and over. She didn’t feel, she just lived. She didn’t have any problems or sad days, but she never felt true joy either. After the video has finished, Barbie opens her eyes, and just says “Yes.”
I can’t help but associate this scene with the choice we made in our premortal lives to come here to Earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 138:56, it says, “Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.” We were taught about the Plan of Salvation and everything else that we needed to come here to our mortal lives to be tested.
It’s unclear how much we were shown of our earthly lives while we were still in heaven (were we shown a trailer like Barbie was?), but we knew it would not be easy. One-third of the spirits in heaven chose to follow Satan, whose plan was mandatory obedience without agency. Those spirits were not given the opportunity to live an earthly life and are still living with Satan.
Agency is a core part of the Plan of Salvation. The agency to choose and the choices we make are what determines what happens to us and to other people, and the emotions that come with it all. In a sense, Barbie and everyone else in Barbieland didn’t have true agency. They didn’t feel or make any serious choices, they just lived the same perfect life day after day.
Life can be incredibly difficult. We all deal with different trials and tribulations all varying in severity. They can be physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and the list goes on. Agency is a big reason we have trials, but it’s also the reason that we have joy.
When I saw the Barbie movie, I was just coming out of a bout of postpartum depression. I was still having days where I didn’t know if I could go on. I struggled to feel any joy or see any of the beauty in life. I didn’t know how to be happy. My husband had just been laid off from work a month prior and we were running out of money quickly. On top of that was trial after trial and I couldn’t seem to catch a break, and I was convinced that life would never get better. I didn’t want to feel anymore.
When I came home from seeing Barbie, I sat down with my husband and sobbed. This scene in a movie about Barbie gave me a much-needed reminder about my life here on Earth. I had let myself drown in my trials and depression and had become blind to all of the blessings in my life.
As I watched that emotional video montage along with Barbie, I saw the faces of my sweet baby boys. I remembered my wedding day and the unmatched joy I felt that day. I reminisced on the days I gave birth and met my sons for the first time and the heaven on Earth that followed. I had flashbacks of going to lunch with my mom, watching old movies with my dad, and having long talks about life with my older brother. Those moments all shaped who I am today.
Along with the joyous times, I’ve suffered many trials. As time goes on and I see what my Heavenly Father has done for me, I am able to look back on more trials and see how they have changed me as a person or even blessed me. I don’t know why I have postpartum depression, and I’m not even saying it has gone away. But I am able to more clearly see and feel happiness among the hard days. The silly jokes my husband tells, my toddler yelling “mama hug!” and rushing to hug me, and the happy giggles of my baby; I am better letting those sweet and small moments pull me through the tough times.
Barbie had lived a perfect life but left it for a new life filled with emotion. We also lived perfect lives in heaven but left it for a new life here on Earth. While I don’t think Barbie has any intention of returning to her old life in Barbieland, we have the opportunity to return home to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of the Plan of Salvation and the agency that comes with it, along with our trials, we are given blessings here and eternally.
While the Barbie movie has been controversial to many for different reasons, I am grateful that I saw it. God works in mysterious ways and He knew that I would need to learn this lesson in a place I wouldn’t expect it – a movie about a doll.