From Barbie tacos to Barbie planes, Latin America has jumped on the Barbie bandwagon. The film, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, ranked third in Mexico in the movie's box office performance worldwide on its opening weekend. Brazil came right after and Argentina was also in the top countries.
Californian actress of Honduran descent, América Ferreran also starred in Barbie and now has a Barbie doll modeled after her. She stated to Collider that “[t]he fact that there’s a Barbie movie and that the story has shifted and expanded to include more of us to be able to be seen in that iconic and very culturally dominant brand, that’s very unexpected and not something that I ever thought I would say that I was a part of.”
The overall marketing budget for Barbie's film and merchandise allegedly surpassed the film's own budget at $150 million. And in Latin America, street vendors, corporations, presidential candidates, and political activists are surfing the Barbie wave.
Barbie in food
From Mexico to Chile, all kinds of corn doughs have been colored pink with beet juice or artificial coloring. Mexican and Guatemalan street vendors have attracted clients with pink tacos. Salvadoran, Venezuelan, and Chilean vendors have done the same with pupusas and arepas.
Here is an example of the ‘Barbie tacos’, served in Guatemala City:
Barbie Tacos in zone 10 wow wow too good, go with your besties or your sweetheart after the movie, it's worth it!
Small Salvadoran foodchain Kuskatan is also serving blue ‘Ken’ version of pupusas in San Salvador:
Respuesta a @raquelcastro4393 Este #Domingo de #pupusas ven y sumérgete en la magia de la película #Barbie 💅🏻💓 con nuestras pupusas de color Rosa y Celeste💙. 🎀 Te esperamos en #kuskatan para compartir juntos la emoción de este increíble estreno 🤩🔥 ¡Solo por tiempo ilimitado! ¡Ven y vive la magia en cada mordisco! 🤤💝 puedes visitarnos en la Calle Chiltiupan, Ciudad Merliot o en el #MercadoHulaHula 😍🔥 también puedes pedirlas al ☎️2250-3050 😉💕#pupusas #barbiegirl #estreno #nopuedesperdertelo
This #Pupusas #Sunday come and immerse yourself in the magic of the #Barbie movie with our pink and light blue pupusas. We are waiting for you at #kuskatan to share together the excitement of this incredible premiere. Only for limited time! Come and live the magic in every bite! you can visit us at #Chiltiupan Street, Ciudad Merliot or at #MercadoHulaHula you can also order them at 2250-3050.
In Santiago, Chile, people can also find local varieties of delicious stuffed corn doughs. Here, a vendor is making ‘Barbie arepas':
Nos ponemos en #modobarbie para que puedas venir a comer tu arepa favorita con masa rosada 😌 la masa es de betarraga com semillas de linaza, uma combinación deliciosa y sana ¿te animas? #arepas #arepasenchile #arepadecolores #arepasensantiago
We get in the #Barbiemood so you can come and eat your favorite arepa with pink dough. The dough is made of beet with flaxseed, a delicious and healthy combination, are you up for it?
Barbie on planes
Larger corporations have also sought to benefit from Barbie's popularity. Mexican low-cost airline Volaris has painted Margot Robbie as ‘Barbie’ on one of their planes. Their marketing on Tiktok is also promoting ‘women as Barbie pilots‘.
I just can't 😍
Barbie in social causes
The film has been applauded by Mexican feminists, such as Julia Didriksson, who left the cinema feeling “revigorated.” Afro-Colombian feminist activist Carolina Benitez Mendoza asked the film's critics on TikTok if “they were expecting a radical, anticapitalist and antiracist angle” from the film.
In Lima, Peru, where deadly protests broke out against President Dina Boluarte — and where state forces are accused of lethally shooting more than 60 protestors — activists put up a box with the words “Barbie Dictator” representing Boluarte. The woman in the box is holding guns while passersby tell her: “Shoot, shoot!”
Dictator Barbie in Lima's demonstrations
In Mexico, too, there is an activist Barbie. According to Amnesty International's records, there are more than 110,000 missing persons, most of whom are victims of drug cartels or kidnapping gangs. In light of the poor efficacy of state-sponsored searches, it is mainly volunteer groups of women who search for disappeared loved ones among the Mexican plains, looking for clandestine graves. One of them, Delia Quiroa, created “Barbie Buscadora” (“Barbie Searcher”) when the film came out.
In Mexico, a group of mothers who are searching for disappeared family members released the #Barbie Buscadora-Searcher- she is dressed ready to go look for clandestine graves in search of her missing family member whose photo is emblazoned on her shirt. @DeliaQuiroa created her. pic.twitter.com/0DDRWjR7UD
— Andalalucha (@Andalalucha) July 21, 2023
Quiroa told journalists:
Barbie es todo lo que una persona quiere ser, pero ésta es una Barbie que no quiere ser. (…) Ella es lo que nadie quiere. Nadie quiere ser un buscador, nadie quiere estar buscando a un familiar.
Barbie is everything a person wants to be, but this is a Barbie that doesn't want to exist. (…) She is what nobody wants to be. Nobody wants to be a searcher, nobody wants to be looking for a relative.
Barbie in humor
Other people have sought to make fun of living conditions in poorer areas in Latin America through Barbie. Among the countless parodies on Tiktok, this one has been one of the most popular, titled, “If they would have filmed ‘Barbie’ in my neighborhood.” It showcases the crowded minibuses, issues with buying cooking gas, flooding, and insecurity. The music is Aqua's Barbie Girl song remixed with cumbia rhythms.
If they had filmed the Barbie Movie in my neighborhood 😂