The upcoming Barbie movie — aka the reason you now have so much pink in your closet — leans heavily on the concept that Barbie is everything. She’s a style icon, a successful career woman, and (this floors me as someone who hemorrhages money on rent) a homeowner several times over. Our girl is the ultimate Eldest Daughter.
If you’re unfamiliar with the plight of being the Eldest Daughter, LOL MUST BE NICE, here’s the gist. Eldest Daughter Syndrome refers to how eldest daughters in a family often get placed with an extra burden of responsibilities, spanning from additional chores or parenting younger siblings. And that can lead to an adulthood with anxiety, hyper-independence, perfectionism, burnout, a need to be in control, care-taking tendencies… the list goes on. While Eldest Daughter Syndrome isn’t like a formalized, diagnosed thing, it is a conversation worthy of over 380 million views on TikTok. And as an eldest daughter myself, I can attest that it sometimes feels like being the general manager, therapist, and secretary of your family. You are everything.
Dark. But you’re in good company.
Let’s break down why Barbie is patient zero of the Eldest Daughter Syndrome.
Where The Fuck Are Barbie’s Parents?
Barbie’s parents are completely AWOL. According to lore, Barbie was born Barbara Millicent Roberts to George and Margaret Roberts in Willows, Wisconsin. If this is news to you, that’s because in her 64 years on Earth, there have never been dolls made of Barbie’s parents.
It begs the question of like, how deep is the neglect here? Like is this a Shameless situation where George and Margaret periodically burst into the Dream House to unleash whisky-soaked chaos? Do they at least eschew therapy and call Barbie during work asking how to add an attachment to an email when Stacie is right there?
And you could be like, “Oh, maybe Mattel doesn’t think little kids will want to play with middle-aged dolls.” Counterpoint: Midge, Barbie’s controversy-stirring best friend, has a mom and dad. They’re included in the 2003 Happy Family line, because Midge gets the luxury of parental support, so she can have a happy family of her own. I’M JUST SAYING, when Margaret calls up asking why Barbie and Ken haven’t settled down yet, I hope she stands her ground with, “Idk, mom, maybe because I’m busy raising my sisters.”
Let’s talk about Barbie’s sisters, because it’s a full Kardashian situation here. Y’all probably know Skipper, introduced in 1963 and memorably re-conceived with an army of crop tops as “Teen Skipper” in 1997. Every member of Gen Z dresses like an edge-of-Y2K Skipper doll. Once someone starts wearing lime green corduroy overalls on Euphoria, we’ll know we’ve gone too far.
Stacie is next in line. Debuting in 1992, she’s “sporty” and nebulously a pre-teen. Finally there’s little Chelsea, who debuted as Kelly in 1995, and looks like a goddamn handful.
Barbie is organizing the group birthday gift for George, even though she told Skipper to do it, and it would just be nice to throw her name on a card for once, but whatever, Skipper.
Point is, Barbie would give the shirt off her back for these girls. You can tell, because there was literally a Sharin’ Sisters series in the ‘90s where they’re swapping around clothes. Like for the love of God, Stacie you can’t get your own acid wash vest and lace capris? What’s Barbie supposed to wear to the office now?
Barbie’s LinkedIn Is A Trip
That leads us to the final, most amazing point: Barbie can do anything. Whilst being the caretaker and ersatz parent to her sisters, Barbie’s thrived in over 200 careers. We’re talking school teacher, dentist, microbiologist, a presumably dark stint as a circus performer. She’s been President more times than FDR, an astronaut that’s touched foot on the moon, a nine-time Olympian. And do you know why? Because eldest daughters get things done.
Otherwise, IT WILL NOT GET DONE. We book the reservations for Mother’s Day brunch, we rush to our sister’s side when she gets dumped, and we GO ABOVE AND BEYOND TO PROVE OURSELVES IN ORDER TO FEEL THE LOVE WE GIVE SO FREELY TO EVERYONE ELSE. WHY IS IT SO HOT IN HERE AND WHY AM I SHOUTING?
How To Save Barbie
Anywaaaaaay. With the next generation of little girls in mind, I’d love to see Barbie get some support during playtime. There’s two ways to go about this.
- We finally release parent dolls. Note: don’t include them in a set that’s like, “Skipper’s Sweet Sixteen!” or “Chelsea Graduates 1st Grade!” or “Stacie Got a B+ on Her Spanish Quiz!” FFS, those two better show up at Barbie’s next major triumph. OR…
- We release Lisa, Barbie’s therapist! She comes with a Masters from Rutgers, a PhD from NYU, and a much-needed a box of (pink!) tissues. Press a button on her stomach to hear fun, healing, boundary-enforcing phrases like, “That’s not your responsibility!” and “Putting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ is a really big step forward!” Prescription to Lexapro not included.