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What Barbie can teach us about sexual health

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

If you haven’t seen Barbie, this article has spoilers. If you have seen it, you will know the film ends with Barbie stepping into the real world and going for her very first gynaecology appointment. This empowering moment reflects a simple reality - it is imperative to take care of our sexual health.

Last year the NHS had to urge women to go for their cervical cancer screenings, more commonly known as smear tests because not enough were going. This reflects a deep issue in society where years of stigma attached to our reproductive systems have made many feel ashamed or disgusted, so it is no surprise that we have found ourselves in a position where we ignore or delay taking care of our sexual health. At Streetwise we deliver our STIs and Contraception session to teenagers and outline the importance of getting STI tests between sexual partners. We believe lessons like this are of fundamental importance as they get young people used to speaking about their bodies and relationships. Our sessions usually conclude with helpful takeaways and an urge to ‘speak to a trusted adult’, but how do you prepare for this as a trusted adult?

This week is Sexual Health Week, there are a plethora of resources available through the likes of the NHS, Brook, and other organisations. Find out what services are available to discuss contraception, fertility, and more. It is also a chance to step away from the awkward feelings and taboo surrounding sexual health and show the young people in our lives that we are here to guide them and not shame them when they do have questions or concerns. For this to happen, we must actualize our self-empowerment and talk positively about sex, consent, and other topics linked to sexual health. As Barbie quickly learns, the world can be hostile, but there is something very liberating about taking ownership of your life, starting with understanding your body and sexual health.

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