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‘Barbie’: My love for girlhood

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AUGUST 16, 2023

I have always been surrounded by great women, ones that have encouraged, molded and loved me into the person I am today. As I grow older, I feel a longing for the times when all my friends were in one place, either in a shared apartment or living in the same neighborhoods. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine I’m in my old apartment that housed more people than it should have and think of all the noise. The chatter of my girlfriends sharing stories, gossip or advice, the music always playing somewhere and the sound of laughter — we were always laughing. 

It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that I may never live in a house like this again in my adulthood, that this laughter now solely exists over FaceTime or the brief vacations we can take to see each other. But I watched “Barbie” and it made me thankful for the moments we were able to have, that I miss them and our friendships are so great and special. These are some moments that I value intensely for the sense of unconditional, comfortable love that I associate with girlhood. 

“Parallel play” is a word coined by one of my best friends describing the way we lay next to each other, sprawled out on a bed or couch, doom scrolling, crafting or studying for hours without contact except to show each other a funny video, an outfit we like or express an intrusive thought. There’s something homely in the way we sit in silence until we have a thought or comment to share with another. It’s never awkward in our hours of total silence, it’s just comfort. There’s something so natural and calming in just another person’s presence, it’s when I feel most safe. It was so common and normal in my old apartment that I think I took it for granted. I yearn for it now, to just be near any of them in nonchalant bliss. 

The pregame is arguably the best part of going out, especially with a group of women. As someone who now lives with a boy, I can confidently say that getting ready to go out is properly and most enjoyably done with your girlfriends. We choose each other’s outfits, help with the makeup, dance and sing to throwback playlists and make fake promises about how little we’ll drink or how early we’ll be home. It’s in these moments that I felt most beautiful, the compliments we would exchange and the comfort in my own body I always felt when surrounded by the people I love, who love me. 

I’d have to argue that the debrief the next morning is even more fun. The debrief can be described as a showcase of all minor and major things that occurred the night before. It’s like an episode of “Criminal Minds” or “NCIS,” we break down every little thing that happened and the seemingly explosive repercussions of all our actions. We gawk over cute boys we meet, laugh over embarrassing behavior and relish in the recklessness captured in photos and videos. 

There’s something so comforting in how disheveled we all are from the night before, never feeling embarrassed or ashamed of how we acted and laughing it off. I used to struggle so hard with “hangxiety,” the visceral embarrassment and fear of what was said or done after too many drinks, but I experienced it much less when I found myself surrounded by girls who couldn’t care less, that were probably just as embarrassing as I was. They always reassured me that nothing I would stress and worry over was too big of a deal, a major thing for a girl who is constantly over-aware of every single thing she says and does in public.

What I value most about girlhood and my relationship with my friends is how time seems to stop, becoming obsolete when I’m around them. The world sort of halts completely and the chaos of being a person, especially an adult, subsides. I feel like I’m constantly putting on a front for other people, as someone put together and not struggling whatsoever with the everyday burdens of student life or really just being a functioning human being entirely. This all goes away when I’m with my friends. 

I like when we fantasize about our futures as if we aren’t in the future that we once dreamed about when we were younger. We ask each other questions about our future wedding, husbands, children and where we want to live. We continue fantasizing about the lives we will live while the world tries to convince us that we should have accomplished things by now. 

I think these friendships have maintained a part of my youth that I feel like is constantly fleeting. They remind me that we are still, in fact, so young and we have so much time to do everything we dreamed about. I think about them when I feel overwhelmed. I reach out to plan future trips and bucket list activities for the sake of feeling like I have something to look forward to, to mask the fear of the bleakness of adulthood. Even if these plans never make it out of the group chat, pretending that we don’t have responsibilities revives my perspective of the world nevertheless, that we are young and we have time — that as long as I’m lucky enough to be loved there are things to look forward to and life is still this special and exciting thing.

I loved the scene in “Barbie” where all the girls banded together in their scheme to un-brainwash the Barbies that were left swooning over the Kens. The silly deviousness and collaboration made me feel nostalgic for playing with my friends. Spending time with each other was some of the most fun moments of my life.

To my friends, you are the most important and special thing I have in this life.

Contact Mary Huynh at 


AUGUST 16, 2023