Skepticism

The Time-traveling Reincarnated Space Barbie

You may have heard of Valeria Lukyanova, the Ukrainian woman whose physical features closely resemble that of a famous doll. But did you know that she’s actually a “time-traveling spiritual guru whose purpose is to save the world from the clutches of superficiality and negative energy”? No? Then get ready for the car wreck that is Vice’s Space Barbie documentary. That link goes to the full 20-minute doc, and here’s the preview:

To sum up, she claims she wants to achieve physical perfection in large part because that’s the only way people will listen to her esoteric “teachings.” No one listens to a nun, she points out.

You probably already assumed that Valeria is overly focused on her appearance, but through a few candid moments the documentary makes it clear how overwhelmingly obsessed she is with how people view her and how that takes precedence over her own spiritual transcendence – for instance, at one point she complains that the set isn’t ritualistic enough for the scene in which she and her friends sing to their DNA. She breaks character from her mystic, bearded, snake-handling guru from another dimension to pout about not liking the throating voice she was affecting. She stops cold in the middle of a pseudo-deep and meaningful freeform poem to complain that there are people walking nearby.

Her focus on appearance isn’t just limited to herself – at one point she tells her (stunningly beautiful) sister to stop smiling before giving an on-camera interview because it shows her second chin.

One of the saddest moments, though, is when she talks about going to see a psychiatrist because she was concerned that her visions and beliefs were maybe the result of a broken mind. The psychiatrist told her he was familiar with esoterica and that she was definitely psychic.

Later, she talks about how she self-immolated in a past life. (Like most people who believe in reincarnation, her past lives were famous kings and brilliant teachers, and not stable hands or children with the plague.) She committed suicide in her past life because she needed to move on to her next life, and she points out that one day she’ll need to move on from this life. It sounds like she needs real help, and the one time she sought it out she only got someone who fed her delusions further.

As entertaining as the documentary is, I really worry that this is one of those cases where irrational beliefs really can have a harmful effect on a person. I hope that eventually someone close to her is actually able to help her out.

Featured image of Valeria from the Vice photo shoot.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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8 Comments

  1. I have heard that, since the fall of the USSR, there has been a New Age, anti-science, anti-psychiatry backlash in the former Soviet states. I don’t know a lot about it, but would love to hear more from someone who lives there or is otherwise familiar with the culture.

  2. In my job, I deal with extremely psychotic individuals so it’s possible my perceptions are skewed, but she doesn’t seem crazy to me. I suspect a sort of performance art mixed with narcissism.

    She isn’t all that surgically altered; much of it is makeup. There’s a video that shows her putting on her makeup, and she starts out as a very pretty girl but not anything you wouldn’t see on the subway.

  3. I absolutely adore Valeria Lukyanova. She’s such a complex person… but there are so many people that completely disregard her very personhood based on her appearance. Yes, there’s a person behind the high-maintenance visage! I also very much enjoyed the Vice documentary, but she probably didn’t. Vulnerability is not her favorite thing in the world. I relate.

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