Barbie Challenges Girls And Women To Go An Entire Day Without Saying 'Sorry'

"Sorry is a learned reflex, and every time we do it, we take away from our self-confidence."

For years, people have overlooked Barbie's aspirational achievements, instead choosing to fixate on the doll's appearance. But, the doll company is slowly moving toward diversifying Barbie's looks, giving her more realistic proportions, and making her an integral player in society's movement to empower young girls.  Barbie's ability to assume any and every role imaginable has transformed the iconic character into a voice for change. As part of her evolution, Barbie has become a vlogger, sharing insights in the form of animated shorts via YouTube. 

While the episodes vary in subject matter, one of her most recent vlogs focuses on an issue that resonates with both girls and women alike — the sorry reflex.

Barbie notes that girls and women tend to automatically apologize even when they're not at fault. "I think there's a bigger issue around 'sorry,' especially with girls. We say it a lot. Like, a lot. Like it's a reflex, and that somehow everything that goes wrong is our fault," she says.

From apologizing when someone else walks into us, to expressing remorse when making reasonable requests, Barbie highlights how pervasive this reflex has become across the board and how "sorry" diminishes our confidence and self-esteem.

"We get excited and exuberant about something we're really excited about ... And then we instantly say sorry. Like we're afraid of being too big," Barbie explains. "Or even if we're sad, we say sorry 'cause we're worried about making someone else sad. I think we're worried about offending people. And we shouldn't be." 

Barbie adds that, while it's important to be kind and offer a sincere apology when we do something wrong, girls and women should not look to this word as their default response to situations which are merely awkward, not regretful. "Sorry is a learned reflex," she says, "and every time we do it, we take away from our self-confidence."

"Apologizing can be a good thing—a sign that a child is empathetic and has strong social skills. But saying you're sorry too much can backfire," Rae Jacobson writes for Child Mind Institute. "For instance, when a girl starts a statement by saying, "Sorry, but …" or "I might be wrong, but …" she may think she's being polite, but it undermines what she's about to say. "It says 'I don't feel confident in what I'm about to say or my right to say it,' " explains Dr. Rachel Busman a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute."

"Girls begin to pepper their language with apologies and qualifiers that turn statements into suggestions and make requests feel less demanding. "I know" becomes "I'm not sure, but…" "I have a question" turns into "Sorry, would it be okay if I asked a question?" Jacobson adds.

But, as Barbie suggests, girls and women should challenge themselves to go at least one entire day without saying sorry. Instead, we should look for alternative ways to preface sensitive topics without relinquishing power.

"If you feel sad, instead of saying sorry, you say, 'Thank you for understanding my feelings.' When the restaurant serves you cold food, you say, 'Thank you for heating this up my food.' When someone bumps into us, we say, 'Oh, that's all right ...' and give 'em a smile," Barbie says. "There's so much more power in saying 'thank you' instead of 'sorry.' It really changes dynamic in a way that you can feel when you do it."

Barbie concludes by challenging girls and women to really pay attention to how many times they say sorry, and then "turn it around." We shouldn't try to minimize our feelings or desires. Girls and women deserve the floor just as much as our male counterparts and we shouldn't feel ashamed or hesitant to stand up for ourselves. By doing so, we actively recognize our own worth and, subsequently, command respect from everyone in our presence, as our confidence proves there's nothing to be sorry about.

Cover image via Ekaterina_Minaeva / Shutterstock

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