Burnout has become so pervasive that in 2019, the World Health Organization formally recognized it as a medical condition—and it’s not just adults who are impacted. According to the American Psychological Association, stress levels among kids and teens rival those of their elders. On Thursday, in partnership with the meditation app Headspace, Mattel debuted Barbie Wellness with the goal of introducing children to self-care practices worth sticking with well into adulthood. Yep, meditation Barbie is leading the mental-health charge.
Barbie Wellness launches with seven dolls—ranging in price from $15 to $30—designed to depict self-care activities like going to the spa, getting a mani-pedi, and soaking in a bubble bath. This is admittedly the Instagramified version wellness, a term that in reality is much more wide-reaching and complex. But “Breathe with Barbie,” a mindfulness-oriented doll that leads a guided meditation with the click of the moon necklace around her neck, could offers some very real value to a demographic that needs it.
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics found a 20-percent increase in anxiety diagnoses between 2007 and 2012 for children ages 6 to 17. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that, of the third of adolescents ages 13 to 18 who experience an anxiety disorder, incidences are higher amongst girls than boys (38 percent compared to 26 percent).
This data shows that there’s a clear and present need for equipping adolescents with wellness strategies before they’re shepherded into adulthood (or even just middle school), and research suggests that meditation—which has been shown to regulate anxiety disorders and rewire the brain to better process stress, may be just the tool offer girls at a young age.
While the doll can now be found in stores, kids don’t have to rush to the nearest toy department to meditate with Barbie. They can access Barbie’s meditation—led by teacher Eve Prieto, the female voice of Headspace—on YouTube without paying a dime. “We teamed up with Headspace to create girl-focused meditation content and bring it to them on our highly engaged Barbie YouTube channel, the number one girls toy YouTube channel globally,” Lisa McKnight, SVP and of global head of Barbie & Dolls Portfolio at Mattel, tells Well+Good.
Only time will tell if playtime and mindfulness are the ultimate pairing for effectively dialing down the stress levels experienced for under-18-year-olds. But in the spirit of the doll’s “you can be anything” slogan, kids everywhere will have the opportunity to make meditation something that sticks with them—even after they’ve long retired their plastic mindfulness gurus.
Looking for an anti-stress routine of your own? Try this morning meditation a wellness writer swears by:
These are the biggest myths about meditation. And if you just can’t sit down, try this walking mindfulness exercise.
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