8 September 2023

Sacred Heart Education 2023: Dream It, Be It

Sacred Heart Education 2023: Dream It, Be It

This summer, Barbie The Movie took the world by storm, captivating audiences of all ages with its enchanting story, catchy soundtrack, and imaginative visuals. Growing up, I have fond memories of playing with Barbie dolls, spending hours in imaginative play with my sister and creating elaborate stories and adventures for our foot-tall friends. So I was delighted when our Prefects stepped out onto the auditorium stage last week for our first General Assembly, dressed in all shades of pink and waving enthusiastically to the student body as they announced their “pinkilicious” Barbie theme for the year with the following statement:

“Barbie has, for decades, been more than just a doll with stylish clothes and accessories. She's been a symbol of inspiration, encouraging young girls to dream beyond boundaries.”

Bianca Catallozzi (President) and Allissa Gangai (Vice President)

Many (including my mother, who came of age in the 60s) felt that there was far too much emphasis on Barbie’s physical appearance—fearing her tiny waist and perfectly coiffed blonde hair set unhealthy and superficial expectations for girls. The reality, however, is that physical appearance aside, Barbie was a woman ahead of her time. In 1965, Astronaut Barbie took a giant leap for women's representation in STEM fields, four years before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. In 1968, Barbie's friend Christie was introduced, making her one of the first black dolls available, promoting diversity and inclusivity. Since 1992, Barbie has been running for president, encouraging young girls to pursue leadership roles, and in 2016 she and her running mate formed an all-female presidential ticket, smashing gender barriers and inspiring girls to reach for the highest offices. Today, Barbie has 7 different skin tones, 5 body types, and sometimes uses a wheelchair or prosthetic leg to get around as she works as a pilot, computer engineer, journalist, entrepreneur, or any other of the 250 career paths she has chosen. To say that Barbie has evolved would be an understatement. Her ability to adapt to changing times and represent progress and diversity is a testament to her enduring legacy.

In the film, Barbies in Barbie Land run everything – they are doctors, lawyers, designers, and government officials. They believe they can be and do anything because they have gained the confidence that comes when allowed to take center stage. Girls’ schools like Sacred Heart are places where girls are given these same opportunities to shine. In our school, girls occupy every seat in student government, every spot on the Model UN team, and every position in the robotics club. The message we deliver to our students every day, as our student leaders Bianca and Allissa declared, is to “dream beyond boundaries”. Because something has never been done before is not seen as a limitation to our students, but rather as a challenge. Greta Gerwig, the screenwriter and director of Barbie, is herself a graduate of an all-girls school, St. Francis Catholic High School in Sacramento, California, and with the monumental success of this film, she has claimed the historic achievement as the first female film director to earn over $1 billion at the global box office. Gerwig's groundbreaking achievement serves as an inspiration for aspiring female directors everywhere and not only paves the way for more opportunities for women in the industry but more importantly, reinforces the notion that talent knows no gender boundaries.

The initial weeks of my journey at Sacred Heart have proven to be truly delightful. As I connect with students, I am deeply impressed by the confidence in their voices and their enthusiastic anticipation of upcoming sports tryouts and new extracurricular adventures. It is evident they are embracing the spirit of the Barbie philosophy of 2023: "If you can dream it, you can be it." which aligns perfectly with the wisdom of our founder, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, who, back in 1843, declared, "Courage and confidence, even to move mountains if necessary!"

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