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Barbie the movie: what does it teach us about networking and women?

Co-Women is Sussex’s premier business networking group for women who want to focus on joy as much as progress. With social events across the county being our favourite way to bring women together, we look at our businesses as part of our lives, rather than our entire reason for existing. On that note, Jo and Becky took their seats for movie-of-the-moment, Barbie – here are some thoughts they took away from the evening (spoilers ahead)…

Hi Barbie! One of the ultimate bonding experiences of the year turns out to be spending a couple of hours sat next to each other in the dark, staring at a screen. I saw Barbie on opening night with my Mum and sister. I hadn’t been sure what to expect… but it wasn’t what I did see, and I immediately knew a second viewing would be a good idea. So, ten days later, I dragged Jo out with me for her first watch, and my second.

We went to one of my favourite venues, Horsham’s Everyman cinema, which I know a few other Co-Women are also fans of! Those who’ve been in town long enough know that it’s the building formerly known as Waitrose, part of Piries Place, which has undergone serious redevelopment during the last five years. The cinema has three screens and a luxe atmosphere: from the front door onwards, it’s a place that’s made to be seen, with a gorgeous terrace that’s the ideal sun trap, to a big bar area which screams Roaring Twenties with velvet seating, low lighting and floral wallpaper.

The screens themselves have a combination of armchairs and two seater sofas, with the food and drink you order being served whilst you sit and enjoy the trailers. It’s a lovely experience, and helps make the evening feel even more special.

Barbie’s network Here come the spoilers! Our main character, Stereotypical Barbie (played by Margot Robbie), finds herself in the surprising and uncomfortable position of having to save her world. Having existed happily in Barbieland, she and Ryan Gosling’s Ken take a trip to the Real World in order to rescue a young girl who’s lost her way. Unfortunately, Ken discovers the patriarchy in the process and, before Barbie can make her way home again, he revamps Barbieland into a Kendom.

When she returns and discovers her home in disarray, Barbie realises that to get the life she wants, she needs some help, which is where networking comes in. We’ve seen earlier in the movie that there’s a Barbie for every career – lawyer, doctor, writer, President, and much more – and that these women have all been brainwashed by the Kens. Those who remain untouched are Allan (Ken’s friend, who in this universe seems to represent those allied to the cause of feminism) and Weird Barbie (a doll who has always been outcast, as she’s the one “kids played too hard with”), so they naturally become Barbie’s spirit guides and professional supporters, along with her guests from the Real World – America Ferrera’s Gloria, and daughter Sasha.

But how does this link to networking? At Co-Women in particular, members of the group support each other. Whether there’s a practical request, or a cry for moral support, our members step up, just like Gloria, Allan, and Weird Barbie. They work as a team to boost fellow members, guiding them through the trials and tribulations of business and womanhood in order to ensure that they are able to accomplish their goals.

We do stop short of bundling our fellow Co-Women into the back of a van, but motivational speeches, like Gloria’s, are a common feature of what we do! We’re still undecided on the pink boilersuits, though we have a feeling that those might start popping up at fancy dress parties near you soon…

Barbie set the tone Jo and I enjoyed Greta Gerwig’s take on Barbie Land and patriarchy. Like Cher famously once said, we think men are great… but we also think that there’s a place for women to be able to step in and do things their way, unashamedly being themselves and prioritising their needs.

There’s a lot that we can take from the approach shown in the movie: ensuring that everyone gets to live their truth, championing others, and making the most of specific skills so that the world runs more smoothly.

We know that the film hasn’t been everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s totally fine too! All you have to do to be considered part of Co-Women is to join us, share the vibes, and embrace those also trying to be their best selves.

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