When I was a kid I really, really wanted an Astronaut Barbie. She seemed fully capable of taking on the final frontier, despite the impracticality of her shiny pink-and-silver space suit and her not-quite-airtight helmet. These days, with NASA's manned space program coming to an end, the plastic icon may be looking for new career options. As it turns out the Rev. Julie Blake Fisher, an Episcopal priest in Kent, Ohio, has a suggestion.
Enter Episcopal Priest Barbie. The doll is not an official Mattel product, but a singular homemade creation that Fisher made for the children of her parish. “I thought the children would like to practice playing with the vestments and learning what they are,” she told Religion News Service. When Fisher's friend, Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, rector of Christ (Episcopal) Church, in Manlius, N.Y., was ordained recently, Fisher decided to add a few item's to the doll's wardrobe and send the whole thing to Cleaver-Bartholomew as a gift.
[Barbie] arrived at the church fully accessorized, as is Barbie’s custom. Her impeccably tailored ecclesiastical vestments include various colored chasubles (the sleeveless vestments worn at Mass) for every liturgical season, black clergy shirt with white collar, neat skirt and heels, a laptop with prepared sermon and a miniature, genuine Bible.
Apparently a devotee of the “smells and bells” of High Church tradition, the Rev. Barbie even has a tiny thurible, a metal vessel used for sending clouds of incense wafting toward heaven.
..."[W]hen I sat down to start to package everything up, I thought `What if I added this? What if I added that? What if I made this? It would just take one more day.'"
One more day turned into 100 hours of painstaking labor, and “before I knew it, it was Episcopal Church Barbie—High Church Edition,” Fisher said.
And it's not just children who've enjoyed the doll: Episcopal Priest Barbie now has her own Facebook group with more than 4,700 members. The page also has photos of Barbie modeling other clerical garb. Since the doll's success, Fisher has started brainstorming about potential friends for the Rev. Barbie:
[She] promises an African-American Bishop Barbie, a Hispanic Ken doll who will be cathedral dean (rector) and his African-American friend, Stephen, will be a deacon. Barbie’s little sister, Kelly, will be an acolyte.
For her part, Cleaver-Bartholomew thinks Barbie could be a tool for evangelism for the Episcopal Church—particularly for conveying that “we have a sense of humor, we can be fun.
“Barbie’s very versatile that way,” said Cleaver-Bartholomew. “She’s open to new possibilities, so evangelism is definitely in her future.”