Cutified Jesus: Presence via Cuteness within Jesus Amazon Products – blog by Martha Gabriela Sánchez Mártinez

3 April, 2024

Amazon is a treasure trove, isn’t it? It is the epitome of consumerism, market competition, maybe even capitalistic indulgence and its concomitant ‘hustle culture’. What better place to find the divine today?

To my knowledge, the study of material religion has thus far not given much attention to aesthetic concepts such as gorgeous, cozy, or even cute. Forming a useful bridge between affect and object, these concepts are highly applicable to this material study. Cuteness, in particular, gives insight into consumerism, which, when attributed to material culture, is noticeably related to identity and meaning making (Martin 1993, 142; Miller 1987, 16). Thus, cuteness has the potential to throw a new light on the consumption of religious media and how these cutified products play a role in the lives of the buyers – may they be what we most commonly denote as believers or not. The cute products included in this study mostly coincide with Dale’s cute criteria: “Objects tend to be perceived as cute if they have the following characteristics: large head and round, soft body; short and thick extremities; big eyes and chubby cheeks; small nose and mouth, and a wobbly gait” (Dale 2016, 7).

Making screenshots of nine cute-Jesus product websites (selection based on “cute” descriptions and their portrayal of the hegemonic Jesus archetype), I have analyzed the comments, images, and descriptions of the products alongside a review of relevant cute studies literature. Cute Jesus products on the USA Amazon site, in particular, are often the object of pious practices, as is evidenced in their prolific marketing and consumer comments. How does the process of cutification impact the depiction of Jesus as “cute” in products available on Amazon, and what influence does this have on the consumers’ relationship with Jesus?

Image 1: Screenshot from “ToBunm Jesus Plush Toy My Friend Jesus Stuffed Doll” (Amazon, 2023)

Cute studies is a vast field. Omitting even the study of kawaii, cuteness has claws in extensive aspects of human experience, notably that of digital and consumer culture (Wittkower 2009; Ngai 2012). Beyond an aesthetic concept, it triggers an affective reaction to engage with the object such that the boundaries between object and subject are blurred, heightening possible intimacy with that which it symbolizes. It is an aesthetic performance where consumption is central. Such products can be bought for the mere fact of their cutification – a process which not only responds to previous narratives of the object, but creates new accounts of what an object signifies. For example, a cutified flower is still a flower, yet it might then be an anthropomorphised or even feminized flower.

This is a subtle operation. While tactility is often a main aspect of cute objects’ affective trigger, there is a clear power differential at play between object and subject. Ultimately, cuteness aids in creating a product which is more relatable, present, and palatable. Cute is powerful. It not only gives consumers refuge from the multidimensional meanings of digital culture, but it brings intimacy and presence to the forefront as object and subject are blurred within fantasies of physical connection and companionship.

Image 2: Screenshot from “HMK with You Always Felt Flat Jesus Take-Along Companion.”(Amazon, 2023)

This is perceivable in the cute Jesus products offered by Amazon. While we cannot we be sure which audiences are attracted to them and how impactful this cutification is for them, the nine products and their comment sections indicate that the cutification of Jesus is of importance to the audience. Although we cannot flatten these products merely to their cuteness, it is worth noting that out of 25 studied comments for all 9 products’ appearance, 17 allude to their cuteness – the rest using terms such as ‘lovely’ or ‘beautiful’. There is also no confinement on the believing consumers’ division of Christianity or even if they would call themselves Christians. Most comments indeed point to children as the main benefactors of cute Jesus products, however a majority also acknowledges the interaction between the products and caretakers of children, or even other demographics entirely. This is visible in Image 2. Image 3 shows that there is also a pool of consumers who wouldn’t call the Jesus products ‘cute’, but rather ‘bonito’, which is Spanish for ‘pretty’, ‘cute’, or even ‘nice’. These examples indicate that the subjects of this study are the consumers who publicly commented on markedly cute Jesus products that they purchased. Often, yet not always, these consumers indicate some belief in or affinity towards Jesus as a spiritual figure.

Image 3: Screenshot from “11 Pcs Mini Christmas Nativity Set Little People Nativity Set”(Amazon, 2023)

Overall, analyzing the product websites reveals three overarching patterns in the impact of cutifying Jesus: the aesthetic performativity of the cute Jesus seemingly allows Jesus to feel more real as a spiritual individual to believing consumers. The easy portability that comes with the cutification of Jesus harbors presence, while the domestic aestheticization of Jesus via cuteness could aid in making piety accessible to a variety of ages. These patterns are most visible when displaying the nine products in groups of three. Each group is placed against the work of prominent writers within material religion, namely Tanya Luhrmann, Birgit Meyer, and David Morgan.

Image 4 (from left to right): Screenshots of “Dance with Jesus – Christian Sound Books for Toddlers 1-3”, “Kawaii Jesus Coloring Book: Volume 1”, and “LSYDCARM Jesus Plush Toy My Friend Jesus”(Amazon 2023)

Aesthetic performativity, understood as an interaction imagined to be had with Jesus, makes Jesus real within the lives of the consumers. Cuteness not only makes the products accessible to children, as seen in the products displayed above, but creates social forms of piety performance which implores connection and interaction with Jesus. Luhrmann coins the useful term metakinesis, which she describes as the “mind–body states that are both identified within the group as the way of recognizing God’s personal presence in your life and are subjectively and idiosyncratically experienced”, through which an intimate relationship with God is created (Luhrmann 2004, 522). Believers learn ways to systematize and create intimacy with higher powers. As such, these states of metakinesis may not only bring Jesus closer through performance but also give Him a specific aesthetic through which one feels to be near Him.

Image 5: Screenshot from “Dance with Jesus – Christian Sound Books for Toddlers 1-3”(Amazon, 2023)
Image 6 (from left to right): Screenshots of “HMK with You Always Felt Flat Jesus Take-Along Companion”, “McEtt Jesus Sticker Sheets – Cute Jesus Bible Story Stickers for Kids Teens Students”, and “ToBunm Jesus Plush Toy My Friend Jesus”(Amazon 2023)

Portability also seems to play a key role in consumers’ relationship with Jesus. Comments on the above-shown products indicate consumers’ satisfaction with the contextual versatility that the product can uphold as well as the companionship offered by them. Meyer describes how this religious aesthetic may instigate presence. When we see religion as a practice of mediation that includes the visual, pictures have the capacity to “re-present – and thus to somehow render present – what is invisible and absent through a performative act”, thus creating a sense of “spiritual presence” (Meyer 2015, 334). Hence, the products in question do not only offer the embodied and habitual practice of seeing, but allow to be touched and as a traveling mate to the consumer. Cuteness takes this possibility further, as the cutification makes these Jesus products contextually ambivalent and accessible to all ages, which, in these cases, reveals a spiritually present, portable, and idealized companion.

Image 7: Screenshot from “ToBunm Jesus Plush Toy My Friend Jesus Stuffed Doll”(Amazon, 2023)
Image 8 (from left to right): Screenshots of “11 Pcs Mini Christmas Nativity Set”, “Yelakey Jesus Rides a Donkey Plush Doll Guardian Angel Stuffed Animal”, and “Christmas Tree Ornaments Cute Christmas Paper Decorations Jesus Embellishment Decor”(Amazon 2023)

Finally, cute Jesus has the potential to reach further layers of intimacy via the creation of a domestic aesthetic. Indeed, Jesus images at home aren’t groundbreaking, but the element of cuteness does specific work here. Given that almost all comments mention the above-displayed products’ cuteness, it is clear that this aesthetic is crucial to its uniqueness as a decoration. Morgan studies the mundane, such as home decorations, saying that “rituals and their material culture are powerful practices that create and propagate the meanings that people experience together as groups and as individuals within groups” (Morgan 1998, 172-173). Creating a coherent family identity surrounding the spiritual is crucial not just in establishing shared piety techniques, but also aids in general feelings of safety. The very visuality of Jesus, especially displayed as something so sensual as cute, has the power to play “into the emotional lives of believers”; in other words – domestic aestheticization of Jesus “does not allow disinterested contemplation to prevail” (Morgan 1998, 50).

Image 9: Screenshot from “ToBunm Jesus Plush Toy My Friend Jesus Stuffed Doll”(Amazon, 2023)

Evidently, the cutification of Jesus is an impactful process. With and beyond Amazon, cute makes objects of worship accessible to a wider audience. It depicts a specific narrative of a relatable and maybe even safe version of a deity which is not always depicted as such. How these products are used for worship, specifically to particular Christian groups, or how it overlaps with other affects, aesthetics, or processes must be investigated further. This would shed light on larger sentiments on marketization or manipulation of such objects as this century continues to move towards digital (sub)cultures and technological advancements in material access. As Morgan rightly noted even before the turn of the century, “the power of images, it would seem, particularly religious images, is measured by their relevance in solving problems and in coping with the problems that can’t be solved. Sacred images […] are those that make belief work” (Morgan 1998, 58).


Amazon. n.d. A. “11 Pcs Mini Christmas Nativity Set Little People Nativity Set Nativity Scene with Light Miniature Manger 10 Rearrangeable Figurines Decor Religious Figurines Christian Tabletop Decor (Colorful).” Accessed November 25, 2023. 

Amazon. n.d. B. “Dance with Jesus – Christian Sound Books for Toddlers 1-3 | Baptism Gifts for Boys and Girls | 6 Bible Songs and Illustrations | Children Interactive Baby Books | Religious Musical Toys for Kids.” Accessed November 25, 2023. 

Amazon. n.d. C. “HMK with You Always Felt Flat Jesus Take-Along Companion.” Accessed November 25, 2023.

Amazon. n.d. D. “Kawaii Jesus Coloring Book: Volume 1 (Kawaii Jesus Coloring Book Series).” Accessed November 25, 2023. 

Amazon. n.d. E. “LSYDCARM Jesus Plush Toy My Friend Jesus Stuffed Doll Christ Religious Jesus Doll, Savior Plush Savior Jesus Stuffed Plush Doll Christian Religious Figure Home Christmas Decoration.” Accessed November 25, 2023. 

Amazon. n.d. F. “McEtt Jesus Sticker Sheets – Cute Jesus Bible Story Stickers for Kids Teens Students – 5 Sheet Pack (100 Pieces) – Sunday School, Church, Vacation Bible School, Bible Lessons.” Accessed November 25, 2023.

Amazon. n.d. G. “ToBunm Jesus Plush Toy My Friend Jesus Stuffed Doll Christ Religious Toys Savior Plush Christian Religious Figure Home Christmas Decoration 13.” Accessed November 25, 2023. 

Amazon. n.d. H. “Whaline 40 Pcs Christmas Tree Ornaments Cute Christmas Paper Decorations Jesus Embellishment Decor Seasonal Label Tags for Christmas Winter Craft with White Ribbon.” Accessed November 25, 2023. 

Amazon. n.d. I. “Yelakey Jesus Rides a Donkey Plush Doll Guardian Angel Stuffed Animal Christ Savior Christian Religious Classic Religious God plushie Toy Gifts for Kids for Christening Religious Easter…” Accessed January 23, 2024. 

Dale, J. P. 2016. “Cute studies: An emerging field.” East Asian Journal of Popular Culture 2 (1): 5–13. DOI: 10.1386/eapc.2.1.5_2 

Ervik, Andreas. 2022. “Social Petworks.” In Becoming Human Amid Diversions: Playful, Stupid, Cute and Funny Evolution, 141-88. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Luhrmann, Tanya M. 2004. “Metakinesis: How God Becomes Intimate in Contemporary U.S. Christianity.” American Anthropologist 106, no. 3: 518–28.

Martin, Ann Smart. 1993. “Makers, Buyers, and Users: Consumerism as a Material Culture Framework.” Winterthur Portfolio 28, no. 2/3: 141–57.

Meyer, Birgit. 2015. “Picturing the Invisible: Visual Culture and the Study of Religion.” Method & Theory in the Study of Religion 27, no. 4/5: 333–60.

Miller, Daniel. 1987. Material Culture and Mass Consumption. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Morgan, David. 1998. Visual Piety: A History and Theory of Popular Religious Images. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ngai, Sianne. 2005. “The Cuteness of the Avant‐Garde.” Critical Inquiry 31, no. 4: 811–47.

Ngai, Sianne. 2012. Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Wittkower, D. E. 2009. “Everybody Hates Rainbows.” In Radiohead and Philosophy, edited by B. W. Forbes & G. A. Reisch, 123-134. Chicago: Open Court.


Martha Gabriela Sánchez Martínez is a first-year Religious Studies RMA student at Utrecht University. She obtained her Interdisciplinary BA at University College Utrecht in Religious Studies and Mathematics. Her thesis discussed the intersection between disgust and tolerance within Western secular pluralistic society, laying the groundwork for an interest in purity claims, politicization, and disabled bodies.