Can women become Barbie with Ozempic?

Madison Ketcham for Vox
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The buzzy new drug Ozempic was designed in a lab to treat diabetes, but sometimes it seems like it was also designed in a lab to spark bad-faith corporate conversations about body positivity. Ozempic and its generic name, semaglutide, are such provocations: After years of brands selling feel-good taglines about how all bodies are beautiful, the arrival on the scene of apparently effective weight loss drugs is calling a lot of bluffs. Breathless headlines report that, once again, thin is in. Our cultural ambivalence toward a politics of body acceptance has been thrown into sharp relief.

“We’ve paid lip service to body acceptance, we’ve go-girl-ed larger women, we’ve celebrated curves, we’ve recognized the gargantuan societal factors in how people look, we quote-unquote did the work,” observed Vogue in March. “But now with Ozempic, being overweight can instantly (if expensively) be fixed. Larger people can swiftly transition to a more societally acceptable size. Ozempic is a miracle drug, a cure for the fatness we’ve begrudgingly forced ourselves to accept.”

I’ve come to think that we can see the same political ambivalence playing out in one of the other biggest conversation starters of this year: Barbie, the hot pink feminist movie/doll commercial.

“Things can be both/and. I’m doing the thing and subverting the thing,” director Greta Gerwig told the New York Times. Was such subversion really possible when it comes to Barbie and feminism? Was it possible when Mattel was, after all, funding Gerwig’s supposedly subversive picture in order to sell a lot of dolls and accompanying merch? That was the sticking point, the selling, how much the movie was an exquisitely made, lovingly ambivalent and tender commercial for Barbie and all that she stands for.


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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!