the reverend barbie

So, I was getting settled into my laptop to do some work, but before I got started I ran into this. Episcopal Priest Barbie (of whom I am now a friend on Facebook).

This morning in the shower, after a particularly good yoga workout, I had already been thinking about religion. I was turning over in my head how if we now understand our minds to be one with our bodies, not separate, how come we think of everything as coming from our minds? Like I said, I’d had a good workout.

Basically, though, I came back to what it means to be agnostic. Which led me to something I have discussed before: the different social and spiritual faces of religion.

When I was applying for permission to work in Méx, el Gobierno me preguntó mi religión, among other things, in the forms I filled out. I thought about it a little and decided, you know, that’s really personal information. Do I really want to share with them that I am agnostic? That’s like sharing with them my personal philosophies. That’s not really any of their business.

Not that I think they care. They just want it for demographic purposes, I realized, so I decided to give them my “social” religious affiliation. The part of my religious life the Mexican government would be most interested in, I think, is the fact that I was not raised Catholic.

There were no boxes to check, just an empty space on the form. I wrote in, PROTESTANTE. It actually did feel a little rebellious. (Rebelde.) Both for asserting my minority social status and for not complying with the government’s request to know my real spiritual beliefs.

Then today I see this Barbie awesomeness. I love that Mattel specifically chose the Episcopal church as Barbie’s. [EDIT: The Barbie is not an official Mattel product, actually. A priest in Ohio just made some clothes and the Facebook page for her. Dammit. Not NEARLY as cool.] After all, aside from being the waspiest church, it also may be the most socially acceptable in the US. It was founded on the principle of divorce. It practices open communion. It allows women priests. It allows gay priests. Of COURSE Barbie is Episcopalian. I am, too.


75 responses to “the reverend barbie

  1. In my second hand understanding of the US society, it was pretty much a given that this variation on Barbie did not come from Mattel. They would not have dared, due to the risk of outrage over their “religious intolerance” or similar. (The political correctness of today is a poison to society, if you ask me.)

    • Haha, well, I wouldn’t have actually been THAT surprised if it had been Mattel. Stranger things have happened. And obviously I believed it was true until after I had written the post. But overall I do agree, yes, it is unlikely that Mattel would have dared.

      On the note of my gullibility, I just want to say, I am disappointed that the Post article I linked above didn’t really make it clear from the outset that Rev Barbie isn’t an actual Mattel product. The editorial arrangement they used is a little misleading.

    • Haha! Debo comentera que el crédito de la foto va a la mujer (la sacerdote) que creó el vestimiento y el grupo en Facebook…

      si la compraría, sea para apoyar Mattel en hagan algo tan ballsy como fabricar Episcopal Priest Barbie.

    • Thanks for commenting, anyway. Did you see the Washington Post commentary on Rev Barbie that I linked? I would be interested to know your thoughts on that, if any.

  2. Interesting post. Barbie is a fascintation of mine. I grew up in the UK hating Barbie and playing the Hasbro’s alternative — Sindy. Sindy was very tom-boyish. She had different attitudes than Barbie. At the time Barbie was all about getting married, and having Ken as a husband, and having high heels, and earrings, and rings, and pretty clothes. Sindy was all about ice skating, horse riding, mountain climbing, trainers, spandex suits, and being real.

    I like that your post is about Episcopalian Barbie, but your commentary of what Barbie believes in, Woman and homosexual priests, I just don’t think the plastic, self obsessed, consumer plastic doll that is barbie has such a wide perspective on religion or life.

    Sindy may well have.

    I’d imagine barbie to be a catholic, going to mass once a year, and not really obeying any of the rules of commandments. I’d also imagine that she’s visted Rome while in Italy shopping, and stopped by the Vaticaan to prove her catholicism.


    I might write a blog about this… once I form the right words in my head.

    Thanks for your post… it really inspired me and reminded me about my own beliefs in society. :):):):):)

    • Thank you for this! I like to think that Barbie has grown up a little, or was maybe she was just being stoical before and has decided to express herself more now. If you do blog about Sindy or Barbie’s Catholicism, please do send me the link!

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  4. Wow…she’s even wearing open-toed heels. I’m curious about what Barbie would look like sans lipstick and with that pearly-teeth-melt-into-one smile more of a neutral expression.

    • Haha, true. Heels are one thing, but I am not sure I have seen very many Episcopal priests who dig bubblegum pink anyway, even if they did wear lipstick. Maybe more of a deep blush.

      Your use of the word melt just made me think of searing a different expression into the plastic. So thanks for that :) !

      • If Barbie is branching out into ever more careers and cultural figures, why isn’t her cousin Skipper or her best friend Midge also getting equal opportunities? Or are they?

        Is there a skater chick Skipper? Astrophysicist Midge? A decade or so ago, there was a male doll made so Skipper could have a boyfriend, but does she have no other friends?

    • Thank YOU. Yes, I firmly believe in appreciating the positive aspects of whatever I can. Anyway, I am not sure I would ever be willing to deny the hours of enjoyment I had playing Barbies as a kid.

  5. The traditional Barbie is very much like a traditional evangelical christian woman: A plastic surface, too much make up and cheap clothing. Sorry. It was a joke too good to pass

    • You made the joke sensitively anyway.

      Plus, dude– Tammy Faye Baker.

      AGH I JUST GOOGLE IMAGE SEARCHED HER. Talk about melting Barbie’s face.

    • Yeah, actuallly, my Mom read this and got kind of excited because she wants me to admit it means I am close to becoming a deist. I was like, maybe Unitarian. MAYBE.

  6. Pingback: more on dolls and religion « ill camino real

  7. mmm very nice blog. agnostic? as in not sure … interestingly enough the question of doubts and faith came up today for me. i received a message that faith actually thrives on doubt … so, ask Him :) he doesn’t mind providing proof that he exists. and keep asking him. ask him impossible things, semi-impossible things, ask him to answer prayers that only he would know about … and keep asking … he wants to show you.

    • Hey! Thank you for this comment. I think that’s a really beautiful idea, that faith thrives on doubt. I heard a radio show on the BBC once where the Archbishop of Canterbury was talking about the same thing.

      Actually that’s sort of what I mean when I say “what it means to be agnostic” …for me being agnostic is kind of having faith in the fact that I don’t really need to understand EVERYTHING in order to feel like I know where I’m going. Just that I have to pay attention and try to understand as much as I can. The motivation to keep trying is that there is always more to be understood.

      Haha, I know that’s pretty vague. I think that’s probably what agnostics are known for though :)

  8. What I find most humorous about this post is the blogger. The mention of yoga made me giggle, because I would love to see how they would make a YOGA BARBIE!!!

    • Haha, thanks… I think?

      Actually, I am totally with you on this. There are blogs that are good sources of information about a topic that interests the readers– origami, music, yoga, politics, whatever. As for the rest of blogs, the main appeal is the whole “reality” thing. People like to see what other people are up to. Of course these two blog categories overlap, too.

      I find it hard to believe that Mattel has not made a Yoga Barbie.

  9. I like how Rev. Barbie led you to reflect on your own beliefs. I am Muslim in a 99.9% Christian community so I can relate to your hesitance to share your personal views. Awesome blog :)

    • Thank you, and thank you for posting your thoughts on this. I think it’s great what you point out, that Rev Barbie has made a pretty positive contribution.

      She can have such a bad rap sometimes, but through it all she just keeps smiling (haha sorry couldn’t resist).

      All the best to you :)

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  11. OMG, I could have written this! I feel the same way! I’m agnostic, and as far as I’m concerned it’s no one else’s business. Oh, did I say that outloud?

    Wow, Barbie as a priest. What hasn’t this girl done?

    • Haha, yeah, that “Oh, did I say that out loud” is something I have been thinking, too. Obviously I didn’t mind TOO much sharing my thoughts, maybe I just didn’t really feel good about a stranger asking me to summarize them in one word on a piece of government paperwork.

      I think Barbie is up to 126 careers or so now? I did a little research while I was writing this. Just a little. But yeah, Barbie can be pretty amazing.

  12. It so happens that a dear friend of mine is, in fact, Reverend Barbie (well, she calls herself Barb, but close enough). So naturally I had to have a look-see. Interesting that the Mexican government inquires as to your religious affiliation. A shame, in my estimation, you don’t have one. But, to each his (her) own.

    • Father Ken: ba-dum, tsssh!

      Yeah, I am actually kind of fascinated by the fact that the government wants to know. It probably is, or at least was, a significant practical consideration for them in some ways, considering the Catholic Church’s history of power and influence here.

      Also, I felt a bit humbled by the fact that, as I mentioned, the question was NOT multiple choice, no boxes to check. As a whole I would say that fits well with how I would characterize Mexican bureaucracy, or even Mexico. They’re not really into categorization or expectations– can be both really refreshing and really inefficient.

  13. the thing that i like about this blog page is that it is english cause my other blog page is german and i cant freaking read it but it is a good thing that i have a german exchange stiudent.

    • Not actually sure what kind of vestment she’s wearing, if it has a specific ceremonial purpose. I got the picture from the Facebook page I linked at the beginning of the entry, though. The person who made the robe also made the Facebook page, so she might explain it on there.

      • I would be interested if they come out with the Dalai Barbie. He Holiness the Pope Barbie, the Scientologist Barbie (which comes with free Oprah couch to jump on), an Islamic burka Barbie (with rocks so you can stone her when you are done with her), a Jim Jones Barbie (sponsored by Kool Aid), and you can finally have a Bill Maher Barbie (who cusses at anyone of faith and then has loose sex in a hot tub).

    • My friend in Cairo translated this as you’re asking me about Arabic places to go and thanking me… if that’s correct, I’m thinking this might be spam, however I am approving it anyway because it looks cool :) So thank YOU.

  14. Barbie was a great toy when I was a kid.
    I made a house for my barbie out of an incinerator in our apartment backyard.

  15. Pingback: The Reverend Barbie | ProntoFalei

  16. Pingback: Does anyone know where I can find an old Barbie activity set?

  17. I am amazed at the legacy of barbie and all the different changes and attempts to diversify barbie over her many years in existence. Personally, I think this is Barbie is ridiculous.

  18. i’m an ex-episcopalian, now a hardcore atheist. i dont agree with just about every denomination/religion, but im still kinda proud that the church i was part of once part of is the one Barbie’s in.

  19. funny, the only thing I ever did with barbie when I was a kid (of course I never had barbie dolls, but my sister did) – was chew on their rubbery feet and cut their hair.

  20. Pingback: "I’m A Barby Girl… Religious Clothes Again?" « Signposts 02

  21. Great post!!! I am now going to go become Episcopalian Barbie’s FB friend too. You are right that it would make sense that her religion would be very socially conscious. Thanks for sharing such an interesting read!

  22. Love the Barbie. I understand your view on religion and sharing. Your blog is a form of shring which is great, becausemeone might gain a little peace and understanding for how you feel. I love Religious Barbie though, I think some church should commission this from Mattel. I know I’d buy it.

    I like seeing religious tolerance. I believe it’s a good show of how civilized and evolved we are as people.

    • I like seeing religious tolerance, too. Thanks for this comment! I wonder if Mattel would ever do it. One of the first commenters mentioned this question, too. It’s interesting that it seems like such a risky proposal for a large company to address the subject of religion. They would need to do a whole line of world religions, I guess…

  23. I am all for religious tolerance. Nevertheless, does it show tolerance when it does not show diversity? The fact that there is only a Christian minister Barbie is by inference that Barbie is only for Christians.

    I thought it showed an odd sort of diversity to have a handicapped barbie. There are now Barbies of color. But to create a Christian minister Barbie does not INCLUDE but excludes people: UNLESS they also put out Barbies of different ecumenical denominations and other religions

    • Well, remember, a Christian minister “created” this Barbie by sewing the clothes for her and making a Facebook page for her. It’s not an official Mattel product. I don’t think the Christian minister is obligated, or qualified, to create Barbies of other faiths, so I don’t consider this exclusion.

      It would be different if Mattel had created it, assuming we want Mattel to be some kind of authority on representing a diverse religious spectrum.

      …Which I don’t think Mattel wants for itself. Probably why they would be unlikely to touch any of this with a ten-foot pole.

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