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  • Writer's pictureAlyssa Chen

Barbie and Jane Birkin

Barbie and Jane Birkin- these two most discussed women dominated social media this August!

Barbie Phenomenon

The "Barbie Phenomenon" of course comes from the big hit of Barbie movie (which has achieved USD$1.28 billion as of today). It brings nostalgia to multiple generations back to their childhood, reminds them of the feeling with their first Barbie doll, and the excitement of dressing her. The scenes in the movie- her impossibly perfect appearance and fancy lifestyle- may have once motivated many young girls to aspire to be a goal-oriented, fashion-conscious, and independent women. The extensive marketing campaign also pinkifies the fashion and mass retailers. All of a sudden, pink becomes a fanatic colour to own despite it always being seen as a certain stereotypical shade to wear.

The Pink Storm in retail shops caused by Barbie movie. Image: The Independent

"How to replicate Barbie style" is the common theme seen in fashion magazines' July - August issue.

Image: Elle France July 2023

Jane Birkin Legend

The movie revives Barbie in our lives, whereas the decease of Jane Birkin reminds us how her legend started in the 60s. This English-born French-aspired lady shapes the infamous "French Girl" looks with her tomboy-ish, graceful, and carefree style. Her particular "je-ne- sais-quoi" has become the mantra of French style and the #wokeuplikethis aesthetics for Instagrammers to capture even to date. You can't miss her eponymous luxurious Hermès bag that many women dream about, and yet it's also her making the French-country-style basket bag a signature to the classic French look.

Jane Birkin's "je-ne-sais-quoi" effortlessly cool style makes her forever be the epitome of chic and muse. She once described her look as cocktail: "I am not as nicely turned out as the French, but I don't care like the English."

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Jane Birkin defined the classic "French Girl Style". Her favorite pieces have also become the key elements- mini skirts/dresses, shorts, white shirts, basket bag, boots and bangs- to replicate this style.

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Her carefree attitude also showed in how she used her eponymous Hermès bag. She was hardly precious about her Hermès bag, and often put stickers and hook random accessories on it. She said, it's not fun if one cannot use a bag in her own way. She even thought about putting a cat in her Birkin bag if possible.

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Two Different Style Lessons

It is a good style as long as it makes you recognizable and allows you to enjoy being yourself

Barbie and Jane may look different yet they have both defined femininity in their own ways. Barbie is the world's most feminine doll- her universal appeal also becomes kind of the epitome of a particular stereotype of a woman (which has always been criticized the most by many feminists!) Whether you like it or not, however, you cannot deny that it's a strong image and inspires many women to strive to look better in a certain period of their lives.

Jane's femininity, however, carries a sense of rebellion - her unconventional aesthetics to her time and careless attitude redefine the looks of being feminine and sexy. It empowers women to feel OK to pursue their beauty and charm without having to look glamorous and perfect.

Style Evolves Following Your Life

Barbie and Jane also demonstrated how their styles evolved over the years. In the past decades, Barbie went through numerous transformations- she has had over 200 careers from astronaut, CEO and US president, which shows the value that a female can be anything, and that with a perfect appearance can also be smart and capable. I am actually glad to see Barbie in a refreshing neutral look with Birkenstock at the end of the movie. She still looks attractively feminine yet with ease. It looks to me like the forgiveness to herself after decades of trying hard to keep perfect.

Barbie has over 200 careers in the past 60 years. Image: 2018 Mattel

This is actually one of my favorite scenes in Barbie movie. Barbie still looks attractive yet with much ease.

Similar relaxation also showed in Jane Birkin's style since the 80s. She traded the skin-baring, simple-yet-glamours pieces of an ingenue for the insouciant style of a grown-up: paper bag waist trousers, cashmere sweaters, oversized trench coats, white button-downs, le smoking jackets. These items hug her body more gently and match just perfectly with her later role as an activist, artist, and philanthropist. She looked age-appropriately elegant and yet still kept her free spirit.

No matter Barbie or Jane, eventually we will all have to understand that self-forgiveness being the lesson of life to enjoy what we have- whether our good assets or imperfections!

We all have time craving to look perfect and thus try so hard to match the mainstream standard, yet also struggle with our imperfections upon switching between different roles in life. No matter what your journey is, eventually, we will all manage to understand that self-forgiveness is the most important lesson in the process. We will enjoy what we have - whether they are our best assets or imperfections, as they all complete who we are and make us shine in our own way.


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