Barbie’s New Name At The End Of The 2023 Movie Explained



  • Barbie learns that the empowerment she was supposed to represent has vanished, replaced by a patriarchy that keeps women docile and unaware of their potential.
  • Barbie has an existential crisis after experiencing the emotional complexity of the Real World, leading her to realize she no longer fits in her Barbie utopia.
  • Barbie changes her name to Barbara Handler, honoring the creator of Barbie and embracing flaws and imperfections as desirable in the Real World.



Warning: This article contains spoilers for the new Barbie movie!

At the end of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, Margot Robbie’s Barbie changes her name to something that honors the iconic doll’s history. After having traveled back and forth between Barbieland and the Real World to find a reason behind her sudden “malfunctioning,” she learns that the positive empowerment Barbies were supposed to have given human women has vanished, replaced by a patriarchy designed to keep them docile, complacent, and unaware of their true potential. Ryan Gosling’s Ken embraces the thought of men being put first if only to show Barbie how it feels to be relegated to an accessory.

Listening to the plight of real women like Gloria (America Ferrera), interacting with the men running Mattel headquarters, and dealing with Ken trying to transform Barbieland into Kendom makes Barbie have an existential crisis. After experiencing all the emotional complexity and messiness of the Real World, she discovers that she doesn’t really fit in her Barbie utopia any longer. It is during Barbie’s ending that she makes a decision to change her name and become a human herself.

Barbie’s Human Name Barbara Handler Honors Doll’s Origin

Barbie Teaser Trailer With Gigantic Barbie

Barbie decides to call herself Barbara Handler after the daughter of Ruth Handler, Barbie’s creator, whom she comes across as a specter while trying to run from Mattel’s CEO and the rest of the board. As the two share a quiet moment of reflection together, Ruth explains to Barbie not just her purpose, but the purpose of existence, with all its flaws and imperfections, which Barbie knows very little about. Ruth was Mattel’s first president, and when she created Barbie in 1959, she named the doll “Barbie” after the nickname she always called her little girl.

RELATED: 10 Reasons The Barbie Movie’s Reviews Are So GreatIn many ways, Barbie’s representation of self-actualization for girls and women can be attributed to Ruth’s leadership as she stewarded the company from 1945 until 1973. She felt that little girls needed more than just baby dolls to play with, so she created an adult fashion doll where girls could project their aspirations and dreams by imagining who and what Barbie (and they) could be. It’s through Ruth Handler that Barbie learns that not only can she be the President, a brain surgeon, or an astronaut, but that it’s also okay to just be herself.

What Happened To The Real Barbara Handler?


While some might think that Barbara Handler, who is now 82, actually appears in the Barbie movie herself in a cameo, that’s actually costume designer Ann Roth. After Barbie and Ken get to the Real World, Barbie experiences disorientation from anxious and insecure feelings she never had to confront in Barbieland. While sitting quietly at a Santa Monica park bench she looks over at an older woman sitting beside her, and their pleasant exchange reflects Barbie’s initial understanding of the grace and dignity that comes with age and imperfection, further cemented by her later conversation with Ruth Handler at Mattel HQ.

Barbara was 15 years old when her mother named Mattel’s iconic doll after her, and after once owning a linen store, now lives a quiet life out of the limelight. Like her brother Ken Handler, who gave Ken his name in 1961, Barbara doesn’t share every similarity with her doll, but she embodies the principles and altruism that she stands for. By the end of Barbie, Barbie feels as much a daughter to Ruth as her own flesh and blood, so out of deference to her creator and respect for her offspring, she takes Barbara’s name when she gets the chance to be human herself.