July 22, 2022

How the Barbie Movie Could be the Catalyst to Healing Your Relationship with Food

How the Barbie Movie Could be the Catalyst to Healing Your Relationship with Food

As a Registered Dietitian, my greatest passion is helping people achieve joyful relationships with food. While I now consider myself to have a positive relationship with food, it wasn’t always that way. 

Similar to every other woman in America, this past month I went to see the new Barbie movie. In the movie, America Ferrera delivers a now infamous impassioned speech about the trials and tribulations of being a woman. She states “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’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….” 

The speech left me and others in the audience cheering. The dialogue was one I had felt and expressed within friend groups for years, but hearing it described in a multi-million dollar movie was an experience that felt so healing to my inner child. Finally! Someone in the media was naming the push and pull with food and body image that I used to feel I could never get quite right. 

As women, or people who identify as female, it’s not an unusual story for our earliest memories surrounding food or body to be negative ones. I’ve heard my clients describe the experience of learning the difference between “good” or “bad” food, and slowly becoming more rigid with what they allow themselves to eat. They express feeling withdrawn during social activities because of fear of what to order at the restaurant. Or, they skip the social gathering entirely to get in their strict daily workout. I see them struggle to accept their changing, growing bodies, the same bodies that support their jobs, kids, activities and is a home for their souls. Imagine, instead of learning these negative associations with food or bodies, you were instead exposed to the concepts from America’s speech. By living in extremes and tying ourselves into knots trying to get people to “like” or “accept” our bodies, we will never achieve complete joy or fulfillment. But by relying on other women, growing in community, and unlearning the myths we have been taught - we can be stronger in our values and be more authentically ourselves. 

Through Good Soul Nutrition, our team’s hope is that we can build that space of connection to begin the messy process of unlearning. Including a Registered Dietitian on your journey to food freedom is like Barbie bringing Ken along with her to the real world (except we are WAY more helpful than he was). Let us be your cheerleader, and a guiding light to provide research to combat the incorrectly learned information. Together we will share experiences and use curiosity to challenge diet culture myths. 

There are many things that have brought me to a fully healed relationship with food. While Barbie wasn’t the catalyst, it was a nice closing chapter on what I hope to be a change in dialogue among friends, families, and loved ones. If it in any way brought you to wanting to change or challenge your relationship to food, welcome! I’m so glad you’re here. Take a seat in my virtual office, there’s nothing plastic here. 

Nicole specializes in eating disorders, disordered eating, and compulsive exercise from adolescents up to adults. She is passionate about education surrounding weight bias, intuitive eating, and the importance of community support within eating disorder treatment.