Barbie just celebrated her 55th birthday, and to commemorate the occasion, made a splash on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Wearing a skimpy, and quite-controversial, neutral-toned swimsuit, Barbie caused quite a stir. Many argue that it may be time for Barbie to finally step down as the queen of the children’s doll world. Nickolay Lamm, creator of the new Lammily doll, would certainly agree that there is a new girl in town: the “average is beautiful”-promoting Lammily doll.
Lamm claims that Lammily is the world’s first normal-sized doll. Last year, Lamm designed images of what he dubbed, “normal Barbie,” in an attempt to make the doll reflect the proportions of real female bodies. He used the measurements of the average 19-year-old woman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and molded them into a 3-D model of Barbie.
Barbie’s unrealistic proportions have long been criticized by feminist campaigns. Although her waist was expanded and her bust made smaller in 1998, her figure remains significantly out of proportion and unrealistic for the average teenager. Studies show that if transformed into a real woman, Barbie’s 16-inch waist would be four inches thinner than her head. She would be required to walk on her hands and feet, as her 6-inch ankles and vast, missing areas of body would not be able to hold her upright. Studies also show that body image issues in young girls may be related, in part, to Barbie and dolls of the like, and that more than 50 percent of girls ages 9 to 10 claim to be, “on a diet.” This is deeply unsettling, and it seems that while no one thing can be blamed for this warped sense of body image in young girls, Barbie’s unrealistic figure can’t be helping.
Lammily represents something new. She’s not overweight by any stretch of the imagination; she is fit and strong, average-sized and healthy. She wears casual and active wear to promote a more healthy lifestyle. She is a bit shorter and wider than Barbie; her feet are flat, not permanently bent to fit into high heels, like Barbie’s. She wears very little make-up, and her outfits all represent the theme of simplicity. She has articulated wrists, knees, elbows, and feet, and her joints bend. Though Lammily hasn’t hit the shelves yet, she is proving to be very popular. Lamm, her creator, launched a crowd-funding site to produce 5,000 of the dolls in an attempt to raise $95,000 to produce them commercially. His project quickly surpassed his target, going above and beyond his request. In fact, the doll now has 11,264 backers and has raised $399,432; the project is 421 percent funded! I think it’s safe to say that the world is ready for a doll like Lammily.
According to Lamm, he wants Lammily to promote average as beautiful. Lamm says, “I wanted to show that a doll didn’t have to have distorted proportions to be beautiful. She can be made with average proportions and be beautiful. The girls I showed it to say that it looks like them and that she looks warm and inviting. They say she’s cute!” I, for one, feel that Lammily is a breath of fresh air in the toy industry. Any step that can be taken to avoid a warped sense of self-image and body expectations in young girls is an improvement, and I think Lamm is making a giant leap in the service of this cause.
For more commentary from Kara, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!