Barbie movie review by California Barbie Princess: ‘I cried multiple times’

Barbie mania is sweeping across social media platforms. Have you noticed an explosion of pink? I’m not a fashion doll fan, but I hopped in the Barbie Corvette and went along for the ride.

Wearing a pink dress, hair bow and lipstick as well as high heels and pearls, I went to see the Barbie movie. My blanket fit perfectly in my pink, plastic, Victoria’s Secret beach tote. Numerous women and girls of all ages and ethnicities were decked out in pink Barbie-inspired attire as well as some men and boys.

Just 17 days after the Barbie film was theatrically released in the U.S. on July 21, it reached $1 billion in global ticket sales, according to distributor Warner Bros.

The Social Butterfly columnist Kristi K. Higgins wears a Barbie-inspired outfit to watch the summer blockbuster film Barbie at Cinema Cafe in Chester, Va. on July 29, 2023.

As a child, I was a tomboy and not fond of Mattel’s fashion dolls, however, my friend Emma Ebensberger, who lived across the street from me, loved them. She had a variety of clothes and accessories. Trying to dress Barbie in skintight clothing was frustrating, and don’t even get me started on how her high heels always fell off.

The Barbie movie main trailer is described as such: Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.

Helena Levin aka California Barbie Princess strikes a pose inside a Mattel Barbie box photo booth at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in San Francisco in July 2023.

The acting, singing and dancing were enjoyable, however, I found the entire Barbie movie somewhat cheesy. It was entertaining, but I would not watch it again. For a review from a Barbie fan, I reached out to Helena Levin aka California Barbie Princess [CA Barbie Princess]. I met her at a wedding in California in July last year. My nephew Zachary Eggers and Benjamín Pérez Lecuona tied the knot at the City Club of San Francisco.

The 30-something teenager, a California native, was their flower girl. I did not know she was the CA Barbie Princess, but Barbie was the first thing that popped in my mind when I saw her. Dressed in pastel pink from head to toe, Levin looked fabulous coming down the aisle while she tossed pink, rose petals.

Flower girl Helena Levin aka California Barbie Princess tosses rose petals down the aisle at her friends' wedding at The City Club of San Francisco on July 16, 2022.

Barbie fan: California Barbie Princess

Levin cannot recall her first Barbie, but she does remember Barbies were always a part of her life. Every birthday, she would get excited when she saw a rectangular-shaped, wrapped gift, because she knew it was a new addition to her collection. 

“We had a den in my childhood home where I played Barbies, and it became known as ‘The Barbie Room,’ Levin said. “Dolls and outfits were always strewn about. I remember telling my parents it didn’t make sense to clean it up because I would just take it out again.”

Levin’s collection that she played with daily included two Kens and about 30 Barbies. In hindsight, she feels they were truly unnecessary; however, she still has a Barbie collection.

Helena Levin aka California Barbie Princess dresses like a vintage Barbie doll in October 2013.

“I started my ‘in box’ collection when I was in middle school. My favorite is probably 40th-anniversary Barbie. She is wearing a gown, but the bodice is a sequined nod to the original black and white bathing suit,” Levin said. “I got her for my Barbie-themed Bat Mitzvah. My dad called it my Barbie Mitzvah.”

Levin preferred to play with Barbies alone in her youth. She wanted to invent her own stories and play out her own worlds. 

“I didn’t really like playing Barbie with friends, the storylines never went the way I wanted,” Levin shared. “It’s funny to think about now, because I have ‘never’ been an introvert, and I would always prefer to spend time with people over being alone, but Barbie time really was just for me and my imagination.”

In 2019, Barbie expanded its Fashionistas line to showcase dolls in a wheelchair and a removable prosthetic limb.

Mattel: Barbie fashion dolls

What does CA Barbie Princess like/love about Mattel’s Barbie merchandise/world?

“I guess everything. Pink is and always has been my favorite color. I also love that Barbie, to me, is much more of an adjective than a noun. When someone calls me Barbie, I always see it as a compliment,” Levin said. “I love the femininity of it all coupled with the feminist aspect. That’s what I have always loved about Barbie. She is truly a feminist icon. She’s been a doctor, a veterinarian, she was in space 30 years before Sally Ride, and she has done all of these things on her own. She’s never needed a man, just her friends and her can-do personality. And she has done it all in heels!”

Members of Mitra church of Chesterfield strike poses after watching the Barbie movie at Cinema Cafe in Chester, Va. on July 29, 2023.

Barbie movie review

Levin loved the Barbie movie. She is not really sure what she can say that hasn’t already been said by trained film critics, but, as one of the biggest Barbie fans, she really believes they did her justice.

“I cried multiple times! They said all the things about Barbie that I always say and what I wrote in my college thesis about her being a feminist icon. They also addressed all the problematic issues that Barbie can represent,” Levin said. “I really appreciated how they didn’t shy away from the societal pressure for women and how it manifests in a doll. I loved how self-aware and self-deprecating the movie was while also being uplifting and hopeful.”

Levin pointed out one critique. She feels the Barbie film focuses a little too much on Ken.

Helena Levin aka California Barbie Princess hosts Barbie movie premiere party at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in San Francisco on July 19, 2023.

“I always appreciate commentary on the dangers of patriarchy, but I think it could have used it a little more as a platform to show that boys should be allowed to be feminine,” Levin stated. “Other than that, zero criticism except that I didn’t get to play Barbie. Greta Gerwig, if you’re reading this, we need a Barbie musical starring me please. But truly, I can’t stop gushing about it. It’s sweet and smart and has so many hidden nods for the original Barbie fans and so many paths for newer Barbie fans to get onboard the pink train.”

Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon) is both pariah and wise sage in Barbie Land.

The American fantasy comedy film was directed by Greta Gerwig. It is the first live-action Barbie film. My favorite scene in the movie is when Barbie floats down from the top floor of her dream house into her car. The Weird Barbie played by Kate McKinnon was my favorite character. Mattel is taking pre-orders for the misfit doll that will be dressed in a bright pink dress with colorful artwork and puffy sleeves as well as green, snakeskin boots. The limited-edition Weird Barbie’s features will include short, tousled hair and markings on her face to emulate a doll that’s been played with just a wee bit too much.

Fashionista Helena Levin aka California Barbie Princess wears rainbow attire during Pride Month in San Francisco in June 2023.

California Barbie Princess: Helena Levin

CA Barbie Princess was Levin’s first email address and AIM [AOL Instant Messenger] screen name. She wanted just Barbie Princess but it was already taken, so she added CA for California. Levin adores California and particularly the city of San Francisco, a place that allows her to be who she is and accepts and embraces her.

“I do feel like I have outgrown the ‘Princess’ part a little bit at this stage in my life, but it was a core identity for so many years that I just don’t think I could ever change it,” Levin said. “Barbie though, I will never outgrow, nor California.”

On the left, Helena Levin [Catherine of Aragon], the Social Butterfly columnist Kristi K. Higgins's niece Chelsea Rewerts [Jane Seymour] and nephew Zachary Eggers [Anna of Cleves] as well as other friends dress as characters from the musical Six in May 2023 in San Francisco, Calif. Rewerts is on the right and her brother is directly behind her.

Levin works in fashion as a senior buyer for She loves fashion and performing, especially musical theater.

“I do theater and drag all over the city and sing often in cabaret shows,” Levin shared. “I have been so welcomed by the LGBTQ+ community and feel so truly honored to perform and work in queer spaces.”

CA Barbie Princess wants to bring joy and love to a community that has shared so much with her. She supports as many queer spaces and local theaters as she possibly can by going to every show/event that her schedule allows. 

Rainbow banners in San Francisco symbolize LGBTQ+ pride and social movements. The colors reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community and the spectrum of human sexuality and gender.

“In a way, I just want to emulate Barbie… show up, do the work, uplift the community, and do it all ‘serving a look.’ Not to get too philosophical here, but I think there is so much power in standing in your femininity,” Levin said. “At the risk of sounding a little conceited, I know people are interested in talking to me. It happens every time I am at a bar or an event. Strangers come up to me, however, it’s just girls, gays and theys, straight men never approach me. I think it’s that feminine energy that draws them in.”

Spectators find Levin’s outfits, hair styles and impractical shoes interesting. I myself took a close-up picture of one of her shoes at Zac and Ben’s wedding. 

Helena Levin aka California Barbie Princess wears high heels while being her friends' flower girl during their wedding at The City Club of San Francisco on July 16, 2022.

“Once people start talking to me, I think my kindness and conversational skills keep them engaged,” Levin said. “And this is how I can create community and help create a world that celebrates kindness, empathy, diversity and pink.”

On Instagram @cabarbieprincess Levin has 10.5K followers and 17.6K on TikTok @helenalevin. She doesn’t consider herself a celebrity but is happy to know people resonate with who she is and how she lives her life. 

“Social media is nice because it allows me to have a little platform to speak out on issues I care deeply about and communities I support,” Levin said. “This Barbie is an activist. Now if I could just get these people to come to my shows.” 

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— Kristi K. Higgins aka The Social Butterfly, an award-winning columnist, is the trending topics and food Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index voted the 2022 Tri-Cities Best of the Best Social Media Personality. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Contact Kristi (she, her) at, follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter @socialbutterflykristi on Instagram.

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