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  • Writer's pictureJunto HKIS

2023: Year of Feminism in Pop Culture

Emma Kang

January 21, 2024

“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful and so smart, and it kills me that you don't think you're good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we're always doing it wrong. But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful.

You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It's too hard! It's too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you!” - Barbie

With Greta Gerwig’s Barbie being the blockbuster of summer, it has been the year of pink. Amid the year of hot pink, sequins left behind at Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, and hundreds of micro trends on social media that include the word ‘girl’, a commonality emerges. This is the year of ‘girlhood’.

What does it mean to be called a ‘girl’? While depending on context, this can be seen as derogatory or even infantilizing, the word in this context refers to a collective, shared experience of what it means to be a girl or woman in this society. Many of these categorize and aestheticize the type of girl one is. This can be tied to the lonely and isolating experience of being a girl in today’s society. While deciding whether one is an ‘okokok girl’ or a ‘lalala girl’ may seem like a frivolous thing to do, it gives a sense of cohesiveness and unity with other people who may identify the same. 

The seeming shallowness of this is perhaps its most attractive point. This year has been spearheaded by the Barbie movie, the color hot pink, and Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. All three are interests that have been deemed as too ‘girly’ or ‘basic’ or ‘emotional’ in the past. Seeing critical success for movies and entertainment primarily catered towards women created a more accepting environment for girls and women alike to express their love for these things without being wary of how it might make her seem.

One of the reasons why Barbie was such a commercial success was because it tapped into an under-explored market: one where femininity is celebrated. While feminism and girlhood are not unfamiliar concepts, there are very few movies that are made to showcase the meaning of being a woman in society. Barbie, ‘girl’ social media trends, and the Eras Tour all have something in common: they put girls and women at the center of the narrative. Hopefully, this will continue into the future.


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