The actress steals the show in Greta Gerwig's new film, with a powerful speech about the impossible standards put on women.
Warning: Spoiler alert! Major spoilers ahead for the Barbie movie. Don't read on if you don't know the way to Barbie Land!
There's a turning point in the Barbie movie, when Margot Robbie's Stereotypical Barbie realizes that the human influence that's been causing turmoil in her perfect Barbie Land life -- flat feet, thoughts of death, and, worst of all, cellulite -- is not a child at all, but a nostalgic mother.
Mattel employee Gloria, played by America Ferrera, has been playing with the doll in the Real World and reminiscing about happier times with her now-sullen tween daughter, Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt). But as her adult-level worries took over, they also crept into Barbie Land, making things far less perfect then usual.
When the trio return to Barbie Land to find that the Ken-led patriarchy has taken over, Barbie's existential crisis begins in earnest, but a rousing, epic monologue from Ferrera's character helps break the spell of masculine brainwashing and motivates the Barbies to take back their lives.
The film was co-written by director Greta Gerwig and her partner, Noah Baumbach, but the monologue has Gerwig's signature style all over it. Reminiscent of similar soliloquies on the female condition by Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronan in her last film, Little Women, Gerwig crafted Gloria's speech as an encapsulation of the impossible struggle for perfection that many women feel acutely, every day, and the fact that she's delivering it to the commercial embodiment of the perfect woman only makes it more powerful.
Read the full text of Ferrera's monologue -- which she reportedly delivered 30 times on set -- below:
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.
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can't ask for money because that's crass. You have to be a boss, but you can't be mean. You have to lead, but you can't squash other people's ideas. You're supposed to love being a mother, but don't talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men's bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you're accused of complaining. You're supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you're supposed to be a part of the sisterhood.
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! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
I'm just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don't even know.
Barbie is in theaters now.