On Saturday afternoon, YouTuber Shalon Lester, 36, watched “Barbie” with 20 girlfriends and then headed back to her home in Bozeman, Montana for a “BBQ.”
She renamed her five-bedroom home the Shalibou Barbie Dreamhouse for the evening, and installed pink balloon arches, a Barbie-themed Slip ‘N Slide, and a splash pad. When the ladies weren’t playing in the water, they played Barbie trivia. “I was Googling Barbie’s full name, how she connected to Beijing, and what professions she had,” Ms. Lister said in a phone interview.
The server, dressed as Ken, serves up rosy cocktails like Dragon Fruit Margaritas and Raspberry Malibu Rum Sparkler, she said. Strawberry hummus was served with a Barbie cake with a doll hidden inside.
“I have the old black and white Barbie swimsuit, neon spandex swimsuit and pink patent skirt with pink cowboy boots and a pink cowboy hat,” said Mrs. Lister. “I decided I needed to make some outfit changes, just like Barbie does.”
Mrs. Lister said that the Barbie movie brings so much joy to the world. “I really think America needs a Barbie movie right now,” she said. “It’s all been so serious for so long, we, as a collective people, need something fun and silly and colorful and bright and glamorous.”
Some Barbie fans are doing more than just heading to the cinemas to see the new movie. (The movie, which opened on Friday, was the biggest opener 2023-present.) They host and attend Barbie dinners, happy hours, club nights, birthday parties, bachelorette parties, play dates, toy swaps, office parties, and of course, barbecues.
The movie proved to be an excellent excuse to get dressed up, get nostalgic with family and friends, celebrate women, pretend you’re kids again, and feel zany and silly.
“I wasn’t even the biggest fan of Barbie, but this movie feels like a cultural moment,” said Brian Lemming, 33, who runs an educational startup in Boston and is excited about the movie after seeing all the marketing. “I’ve learned that life is very short, and you have to do a lot of things like this when it comes.”
She said she had 10 friends on a Saturday afternoon to “be silly and pretend we were kids”.
I ordered Barbie-tinis – ready-made cocktails and mocktails mixed with vodka, hibiscus, tea syrup, peach schnapps and lemon – from a friend’s company. “The cocktail is hot pink,” Mrs. Liming said with a laugh.
Distributed mini pink heart sunglasses, masks, and fanny packs. “I even made goody bags, like at a kid’s birthday party,” she said. It was filled with pink Sour Patch Kids, Pop Rocks, and Bubble Tape.
Jennifer Hansen, youth services program coordinator at the Dover Area Community Library in Dover, Pennsylvania, decided to organize something in the library after messaging a friend with whom Barbie used to play as a child.
“I just remembered how much I loved playing Barbie and acting out all these scenarios and using my imagination,” said Ms. Hansen, 30. “Now is the perfect time to remember that happy feeling because we’re still emerging from Covid, and it’s such a strange time.”
On Friday morning, 90 people, from two-year-olds to grandparents, converged on the library for a family-friendly Barbie party. Kids made Barbie-sized books, played in an inflatable pool, solved a Barbie puzzle and colored in Barbie pictures. Some brought their favorite Barbies (there were more for those who didn’t have any) and swapped outfits and accessories. “One brought a Barbie in a wheelchair, one brought a prosthetic leg,” said Ms. Hansen. “When I was young, that wasn’t a thing that existed.”
Yael Buechler, 37, a rabbi, hosted a Barbie-themed lunch and dinner Saturday at her Bronx home, even though her two sons, ages 5 and 7, aren’t Barbie’s. “They’re more into Frozen,” she said.
I thought it was an opportune moment to explore some of Barbie’s themes with her children. “There’s an idea in Judaism that God shapes our identity, but ultimately it’s up to us to make our own decisions about our lives,” she said. “I don’t want to give away any spoilers from the movie, but the idea of individuality and a person’s role in the world really came through.”
They discussed themes from the movie around the table, which was covered in pink items including a custom sallah cover that read “Shabbat Shalom” in a pink Barbie-inspired graphic. Rabbi Buechler also made the chute with metallic sprinkles and pink sprinkles. “Pink sprinkles were hard to find this week,” she said.
For Jasmine Lee, throwing a Barbie-themed party for her 28th birthday last week at a friend’s house in Austin, Texas, was an opportunity to celebrate women.
“We all come dressed up in the Barbie clothes we want to be,” she said. “It was almost a symbol of women’s empowerment and their ability to do anything they want in life. Barbie understands that, and I think that’s why people admire her so much.”
Ms. Lee added that Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” was on repeat most of the time, and no one got sick of it.