- Barbiecore is a fun hot pink trend and a statement on the state of the world, enthusiasts say.
- The fashion statement rejects old standards of beauty and challenges stereotypes about femininity.
- Gen Z and millennials are embracing it and LGBTQ icons like Lil Nas X are making it their own.
After the pandemic kept her indoors for two years, Imani Fahrah wanted to make a statement for her in-person birthday celebration. Her outfit had to be loud, fun and fabulous.
The 29-year-old New Yorker finally found it after weeks of searching – a hot pink chiffon mini dress paired with shimmering silver heels and a princess crown. Completed with glittery makeup, Fahrah posed for photos at a Manhattan restaurant with her birthday card which read, “Sassy, classy, and so kick-assy.” It was perfectly Barbiecore.
“It’s a movement, an aesthetic, a vibe,” Fahrah told Insider. “Barbie is diverse now, like Black Barbie. She’s had a lot of different jobs. She’s a doctor, vet, realtor. It’s women, it’s girls. We can be anything.”
Gen Z and millennials, especially young women in their 20s and 30s, are leading a fashion movement defined by roses on their faces, short skirts, chunky high heels, long nails and false eyelashes. The bimbo aesthetic, an ode to Barbie, is making waves and also highlighting – in strong color – how feminism, diversity and even global politics intersect.
The trend coincides with the upcoming release of the movie “Barbie” directed by Greta Gerwig starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, but fashion teachers, trend forecasters and women say it’s not just the movie that’s driving Barbiecore, which started trending in 2020.
We’re taking a dated beauty standard and overturning it.
The hot pink wave is a statement about feminism, diversity and global politics, according to Chazlyn Yvonne Stunson, a 21-year-old beauty and lifestyle blogger based in Los Angeles.
“I think we’ve changed the way we think about the stereotypical Barbie girl with blonde hair and the perfect body. These days we see all kinds of individuals, like me, participating in the aesthetic,” said the blogger, who is black, added.
Barbiecore is a Gen Z and millennial response to the quarantine and social distancing of the pandemic, a kind of sex release moment, version 2.0 of hot-girl summer. The look, which LGBTQ icons like Lil Nas X and Laverne Cox have embraced, is a feminist statement. It flips the script on stereotypes — specifically that if you wear pink you’re not smart — and expands the notion of femininity to include people beyond blonde, white, heterosexual, cisgender, have said industry experts and enthusiasts.
At the same time, it’s an extension of those generations calling for diversity and inclusion, with young people redefining how they present themselves in society and at work, demanding respect in whatever pink outfit they want – like Elle Woods from “Legally Blonde” or Emily from “Emily in Paris” would. The trend exploded after Valentino’s Fall/Winter Haute Couture 22-23 fashion show in March and could gain even more momentum as Gen Z makes its mark in the workplace and young people call for more diversity in corporate America.
“Barbie is a personality,” Fahrah said. “Women are starting their own business. They’re ditching boring black suits at work. We’re saying, ‘I’m here. I show up on business, at parties, wherever I want.”
A COVID response with a feminist kick
Tara, a 26-year-old lifestyle blogger from Dublin who asked to keep her last name private for security reasons, has been dressing in Barbiecore fashion long before the look had a name. For the past five years, Tara, who goes by the name “Princess Bitch” on Instagram, has donned Barbie pink dresses, high heels, Barbie shirts and referenced the doll in her captions.
“Barbiecore is popular right now because people are tired of being kept away from COVID, they want to have fun. They’re not afraid to wear whatever they want anymore,” he said. she stated. “It’s also a feminist statement. She says, ‘It’s good to wear bright pink and stand out, you can dress any way you want.'”
According to Kendall Becker, a trend forecaster who has worked with luxury stores like Bloomingdale’s, the shocking hot pink is a snub to millennial pink, the once-in-vogue soft hue that was supposed to define a generation. Becker added that by rejecting color, Gen Z and Millennials are also saying “no” to the muted version of femininity that society has so often attributed to women, opting for a bolder version.
“Barbiecore was initially about coming out of COVID. The focus was on party dress up, night dress up, and owning your sexuality,” Becker said. “It spilled over into workplace culture and street style with pink jumpsuits. It’s about owning your look. You feel good and you feel empowered.”
The bright pink is reminiscent of the so-called “pussy hats” that tens of thousands of protesters donned during the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, Shawn Grain Carter, fashion business consultant and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology of New York, said.
“Pink is a color that represents new waves of feminism in terms of the world and what we’re going through,” Grain Carter said, citing how pink became the unofficial color of some #MeToo protests and some of the images used. by activists to show the gender pay gap.
“Women are claiming this color as a means of empowerment at work, in politics, in finance, in the media,” she said. “It’s this notion that pink is used as a tool of empowerment for women, whether they’re trans women, young women, older women, middle-aged women, post-menopausal women, whatever. “
Embrace diversity and inclusion
Barbiecore, specifically the hot pink power suit, is a product of the 2020-driven calls for diversity and inclusion in corporate America, according to Grain Carter and Jamie Ross, a former fashion executive who is now a consultant and educator who taught at Marist College and the Institute of Fashion Technology.
Barbie is now a boss.
“Barbie is a boss girl now,” Grain Carter said. “Barbie represents tradition, but also pushes and breaks new boundaries.”
Black artists, designers, and pop culture icons have played a crucial role in the proliferation of Barbiecore. Black women like pop star Lizzo and actress Ariana DeBose have been making headlines lately with their hot pink outfits. Hip-hop artist Lakeyah, in his recent hit “I Look Good,” combines lyrics about making money, looking good, and demanding respect. “I’m a bitch. Perfect, Barbie a bitch. Don’t get me started. Push the boot in that bitch,” she raps. And black fashion designers Hanifa, Kimberly Goldson and Rich Fresh, who have all worked with Mattel, drew inspiration from the Barbie aesthetic for their 2022 and 2023 collections.
Indeed, many attribute the origin of Barbiecore to the rise of rap icon Nicki Minaj in 2010, with her hit album “Pink Friday.” Minaj paired cute pink outfits and a big smile with bold lyrics about sex and fortune. She called her fans “Barbz” for years and in 2021 said she was the “f**kin’ Black barbie” in her song “Black Barbie”.
Tonya Parker, 49, of Newport News, Va., said she loves that Barbiecore challenges the idea that blonde, thin women are the epitome of beauty.
“I think Barbiecore is definitely a statement about diversity,” she said. “We’re taking a dated beauty standard and overturning it. And that’s certainly a response to current events. I still see joy as a form of resistance.”
take his own life
Barbiecore has the potential to get even bigger with the eponymous film, which industry experts expect to debut in July 2023.
The fact that it’s directed by Gerwig, known for her thought-provoking “Lady Bird” work, as well as the fact that it’s expected to feature a diverse cast, including a transgender Ken, could make the film – and therefore the trend of the fashion – popular with more young consumers, Ross said.
For Fahrah, one thing is certain: Barbiecore is an indispensable breath of fresh air.
“I’ve always felt like I’m being judged for my love of hot pink and hot pink. It’s always been seen as emotional and vulnerable. For him to transition into a strong color is great” , Fahrah said. “That look says ‘It’s my year and I’m kissing’.”