Yes, there is indeed a “Breathe with Me Barbie.” With — so the packaging says — “5 Guided Meditations.” Unlike the Minimum Wage Barbie (complete with McDonald’s uniform) and the Trailer Trash Barbie (sporting a beer bottle), this Barbie is a genuine, licensed Mattel product.
I have to admit, one thing I’ve never wondered about Barbie is her religious orientation. I suppose, given her upper-middle class economic consumption, I would have pegged her as an Episcopalian had it occurred to me to ask, but, no, I never thought about it.
A quick search reveals that Barbie’s “You Can Be Anything” series included dentist, teacher, yoga instructor, and physician, but I don’t find priest or pastor as options. Barbie can go on vacation, clearly, but I don’t find a church, synagogue, or masjid play set available for her, even occasional, use.
Which leads me to ask: Is Barbie a “none”? A “done”? An “SBNR” (spiritual but not religious?)
Yep, as with her no-doubt athletic and healthful form of yoga, Barbie’s mindfulness is for everybody. It’s scientific. It’s non-sectarian. It’s approved by Silicon Valley. Nearly everyone in American culture knows it: Mindfulness is just plain good for you, even when stripped of all traditional religious folderol. Or, especially when stripped of all traditional religious folderol.
Breathe With Me Barbie — smiling beatifically from her clear plastic packaging in the aisles of big box stores everywhere — is telling us that it’s time to get past our hangups left over from the past, including the supposition that some form of Christianity or monotheism or theism has to be the one and only true form of religious expression.
What we nowadays call mindfulness is about keeping the germ of a religious idea but discarding the husk. Perhaps the practitioners of chaos magic got there first, but it’s time to see eclecticism (even chaos!) in religious and spiritual matters as the Walmart, not the Tiffany, for most Americans.
Might it be that even we non-theists could begin to be seen by larger society no longer as rare exotic animals somehow stumbling purposelessly and meaninglessly through our lives? Perhaps Breathe With Me Barbie is leading the way.
No, I won’t be purchasing a Breathe With Me Barbie. But, as the saying goes, I resonate.