Barbiecore has really taken off, but what is the psychology of the Barbiecore trend, and why do we follow trends in the first place?
The underlying psychological processes that contribute to the emergence, popularity, and eventual decline of a trend within a particular culture or society depend on many factors including the need for novelty, social influence and social proof, and the desire to reduce cognitive load. Trends feed our psychological need for both novelty and belonging as they can motivate us to experience something different from the status quo, while simultaneously allowing us to fit in with like-minded others. When we observe others adopting a certain style, we interpret this as social proof that the style is desirable. Following what others are doing or wearing eases the cognitive burden of having to think about what to do or wear. When trends become oversaturated, we become bored with them and because they no longer excite us, we seek something new.
Why does Barbiecore appeal to so many?
Aside from the stunning stars of the film, the psychology of Barbiecore is very much down to Barbie herself.
The toy, has been popular and much-loved for generations, and many people have fond childhood memories associated with it Her iconic status and longevity make her appealing across generations and demographics. Barbie has undergone numerous transformations and reinventions over the years, allowing her to adapt to changing cultural, fashion, and societal demands. She has taken on various identities, roles and professions, reflecting the evolving interests and aspirations of children and adults making her far more than just a doll, she is seen as a symbol of femininity, beauty, and aspiration as well as a powerful ally for DE&I.
The psychology of the Barbiecore trend taps into these important psychocultural aspects as well as the psychological phenomenon of nostalgia, triggering childhood memories and the positive emotions connected to them. Adopting the Barbiceore trend allows us to escape from the mundane realities and responsibilities of adulthood and everyday life into a fantasy world where everything is bright, fun, feminine and glamorous. Like all trends, the Barbiecore trend creates a sense of community and connection among like-minded individuals.
…why does this trend not appeal to others?
The psychology of the Barbicore trend extends not only to those who love her, but also to those who reject her as a cultural ican and what she stands for.
Barbie’s production and the use of plastic materials raise environmental concerns related to plastic waste, pollution, and sustainability and her extensive range of accessories, clothing, and merchandise has led to concerns about excessive consumerism and materialism. In addition, her traditional roles of fashion model or princess, and exaggerated proportions can reinforce gender stereotypes, limit girls’ aspirations and interests beyond appearance and fashion, and promote unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards.
Historically, Barbie’s lack of diversity in terms of body types, ethnic backgrounds and physical abilities was a point of contention, alienating those who didn’t see themselves represented in Barbie’s world. Over the years, Mattel has made efforts to address some of the criticisms and concerns by introducing more diverse dolls, promoting positive messaging, and encouraging imaginative play.
What is the psychology behind the demise of a trend?
At the peak popularity, when a trend becomes excessively common, it loses its novelty and some people feel they are compromising their individuality. The trend becomes oversaturated and starts to decline driving consumers to seek out alternative trends that offer a fresh experience and feed their psychological need for novelty and excitement.
What trend will follow Barbiecore?
Watch this space…
I commented on the Barbiecore trend for The Sydney Morning Herald. You can read the full story here.
Want to know about The Psychology of Fashion? Read my book available on Amazon and any quality bookstore.