Wellness Barbie: Mattel Debuts Self-Care Collection With Meditation App & Yoga Apparel But Do We Need It?

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Mattel, the toy company behind the iconic Barbie doll, has just dropped a new on-trend Barbie Wellness Collection. The dolls in this new self-care inspired collection is equipped popular health products and gadgets, from meditation apps to athleisure and protein bars. While Mattel’s new foray into wellness appears to be a good laugh for some, it’s a stark reminder of the billion-dollar industry that has commoditised self-care with a slew of products and fashion accessories that fuel our addictive consumerist culture. 

Barbie appears to be embracing the world of wellbeing this month, as Mattel, the toy behemoth that makes the famous doll, unveiling a new Barbie Wellness Collection. In a press release, the company says that the collection will “introduce girls to the benefits of self-care through play,” adding that it will teach “daily routines that promote emotional well-being…because Barbie knows to be one’s best is to give yourself the best care.”

The new collection is full of all the latest trends that have taken the modern wellness world by storm. The Breathe With Me Barbie will come with five different meditation options, the Barbie Spa Doll is equipped with her own spa and bath bomb, candle and bath brush, and the Spa Day Fitness Doll dons the most fashionable athleisure look, carries a protein bar and of course, her yoga mat. 

Although the latest Barbie collection can be brushed off as just another product birthed from our current global love affair with anything wellness, the surreal accuracy of all the products featured in Mattel’s latest reincarnation of the doll, including the extensive beauty products, multi-coloured yoga leggings and fitness accessories, is a stark reminder of how much stuff the wellness world has produced.

In a world that is already suffering from overflowing landfills, plastic ocean pollution and rising carbon emissions that is showing no signs of stopping, our never ending consumption for things, even when in pursuit of better health, is coming at a huge cost for our planet.

Wellness Barbie is another reminder of the commercial value of our global obsession with wellbeing. From Instagram posts peddling health brands a go-go (hello influencers) to entire new products categories being created (crystals anyone?), the rise of the wellness industry is fuelling more new production in a world already suffering from the consequences of unsustainable production.

Take Marie Kondo’s new online lifestyle store, for instance, which is selling homeware products such as a stick that are meant to “spark joy” in our lives. Or Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness empire Goop, which includes a digital content platform and accompanying online retail line. The site showcases a “vagina-scented” candle for US$ 75. Goop is so entrenched in the zeitgest that the company recently landed a partnership with online streaming giant Netflix for an original series documenting all sorts of alternative practices that debuted last week. 

Whatever the verdict is on our obsession with wellness, what’s clear from the launch of Mattel’s new Barbie line is that it it’s here to stay. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the industry is already worth US$ 3.72 trillion and will only continue to grow with Asia’s ever-growing middle-class demographic discovering the potency of self-care. 

We are on track for more unnecessary growth and more overconsumption, all to the detriment of the environment. But there is hope. The climate crisis is beginning to dominate headlines. The connection between our endless stuff and our ailing planet is being made, slowly but surely. More of us are waking up to the uselessness of the endless fads and transient concepts that permeate the wellness space. Let’s hope that we as a global community continue to work on improving our physical and mental wellbeing by focusing on a return to the basics like improving our breath, and ditch the excessive consumption that needn’t come with it.


Lead image courtesy of Mattel.


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