Earlier this year, artist Nickolay Lamm announced a crowdfunding project to create a new type of Barbie called the Lammily doll. The toy, which will finally be ready to ship at the end of this month, features realistic body proportions, less makeup, and brown hair. The new doll offers a stark contrast to the blonde hair, blue eyes, and distorted proportions of the highly criticized and coveted conventional Barbie by Mattel.
As studies have shown, the unrealistic proportions of Barbie translated onto a real human would result in a five-foot-nine, 110-pound woman with half a liver and size three feet who would have to walk on all fours. According to Josh Golin, associate director for a Commercial-Free Childhood, this disconnect between reality and Barbie is a serious problem.
"Barbies promote an impossible body type to young girls," he said. "Research shows that girls ages five to eight who are exposed to Barbie reported more dissatisfaction with their own bodies. The American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls singled out dolls like Barbie for presenting a limiting 'objectified sexuality' that is particularly harmful to the doll's target market."
The Lammily doll, on the other hand, would have the measurements of an average 19-year-old, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control, with a five-foot-four stature and 33-inch waist that is double the size of Barbie's. In the first 30 days of his campaign, Lamm raised $500,000 and received 19,000 preorders.
In a video made by Lamm, a class of second graders was presented with his new, more realistic doll. The little girls responded very positively to its shape, saying things like, "She looks like a regular girl going to school" and "She looks like my sister."
To take the idea of the average women a step further, Lamm just announced a collection of various stickers called Lammily Marks that simulate the qualities of real women. Some of the add-ons include acne, bruises, tattoos, and stretch marks. The announcement of these body modifications has garnered a lot of praise from the critics of the old-fashioned Barbie. However, additions like cellulite and pimples might not immediately appeal to some of Barbie's target audience of prepubescent girls because they've been inundated with conventional Barbies for years.
When I asked my little sister, who is nine, what she thought about the Lammily Marks, she said that anything beyond adding freckles and blush to her doll would ruin its "perfection"—but my other sister, who is only six, thought pimples and scars would be cool to add because she sometimes gets rashes.
It also seems like some of this stuff might be more important to adults than it is to kids, who are also too young understand acne or stretch marks because they haven't gone through puberty yet. Case in point, when when I asked my sisters about the stretch marks and cellulite, they had absolutely no idea what I was even talking about. When I described to Lily what stretch marks were, she said, "I like the idea, but no."
"It is difficult to predict whether playing with the new Lammily doll will be beneficial for children, particularly as long as girls are barraged with harmful messages from Barbie, Monster High, and other fashion dolls," said Golin. "What is clear is that Lamm offers an important critique of Barbie and it's true value may come from inflicting real damage on a brand that has undermine girls' wellbeing."
In an age of photoshopped booties and plastic surgery superstars, Lamm's goal to promote that "average is beautiful" is awesome and commendable, even if some little girls aren't hip to stretch marks and zits just yet.
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