Ironically, 'Barbie' Director Greta Gerwig Wasn't Allowed to Have Barbies As a Kid

In a strange twist of fate, Gerwig will likely forever be associated with the iconic doll.

Greta Gerwig Barbie
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The woman who brought us the pink-filled ecstasy of Barbie, who lit up our summer and recreated our childhood fantasies...comes from an anti-Barbie household. How is this possible? How did Greta Gerwig capture the pure joy and naivety of Barbies without ever owning one herself?

Gerwig revealed this tragic fact to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. My mom wasn’t so into Barbie," she said. "Certain moms, they would be like, ‘I don’t know if this is a good example of womanhood,’ the body type and everything … she was less excited about that."

This is understandable, and a notion tackled in the film itself, when teenager Sasha discusses everything "wrong" with Barbie and its impact on young girls. "You have been making women feel bad about themselves since you were invented," she said.

Gerwig continued by saying that Barbies found their way into her little hands, she explained. "But I got hand-me-downs from girls in the neighborhood where I was growing up and so I got a lot of pre-loved dolls,” Gerwig said.

These pre-loved dolls sound similar to "Weird Barbie," played by Kate McKinnon in the film. Perhaps the abandonment of these dolls and her chance to give them more love inspired a storyline for the ostracized Barbie who everyone is afraid of.

But don't worry, there's a happy ending in store for little Gerwig. Apparently, her mom noticed how much she adored these "Weird Barbies" and enlisted Santa's help.

"Although my mom, I will give her credit, she did give me a doll, a proper doll, for Christmas, in a box," she said. "She relented, and then I destroyed her [Barbie].”

Somehow, this personal anecdote helps us understand this incredible movie even better, as it almost compares Barbie through the lens of a fan (Sasha's mom, Gloria) and a non-believer (Sasha). Perhaps it is Gerwig versus her peers, or even Gerwig herself pre- and post-Barbie gift. There are a lot of layers to unpack here.

Either way, this has inspired me to listen to "I'm Just Ken" on repeat until the end of the workday when I have another excuse to watch Barbie again.

Fleurine Tideman
Freelance Writer

Fleurine Tideman is a freelance writer who is always ready to discuss celebrities, entertainment, mental health, relationships and anything else her busy brain comes up with. She comes from the small, rainy land of the Netherlands, but she uses the flexibility of her work to travel around Europe and explore new places. She spent several years working in the travel industry, which taught her how to fit insane amounts in her hand luggage. She has a degree in Psychology and Anthropology, which she uses to psychoanalyse herself and others. She’s a regular contributor for Betches, and you can also find her work on Pop Sugar, Insider, Time Out or her own blog, Symptoms of Living. At Marie Claire, she’ll be covering celebrity news, usually written to the sounds of Taylor Swift.