The Rev. Barbie, best-dressed Episcopal Priest

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.

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[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.”

Kerry Weber

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Gerelyn Hollingsworth
7 years 10 months ago
Beautiful.

The first Barbie doll I've seen that I'd like to have.

(The Blessings company - nun dolls - went out of business. The habits were meticulously done, but the faces were ugly, imho.)
Eugene Pagano
7 years 10 months ago
If these costumes were available commercially, how many Catholic (and Episcopal) girls or their mothers, aunts, etc.) would want them?
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 10 months ago
There is something about this that bothers me.  It looks like clericalism to me.  Dress up and assume a power that has traditionally been given only to men.  Aspiring for what has become a great problem in our Church.
 
The "official" Church is profoundly masculine - rigid, rationalist, powerful, self-secure, and arrogant.  Do women want to wear that kind of power suit?

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