New "Average" Barbie Is Heavier And Has Zits. Is This Good?
Holiday shopping is upon us! Time to push and shove our way through stores – or cyberspace – to grab perfect gifts for the kids. Hmmm. Stumped over what to get the little angels this year? New video games? Board games? Action figures? Gadgets? It’s a dazzling array of choices that makes even the savviest shopper’s head spin. But toy designer Nickolay Lamm says he’s got an easy solution – the Lammily Fashion Doll. It’s a toy that celebrates the “average” girl.
The Lammily Doll was inspired by designer Lamm’s desire to make a Barbie-like doll representing proportions of an average 19-year-old American girl. So he consulted the Center for Disease Control’s website, got her measurements, and voilà! The Lammily Fashion Doll was born. As stated on the website, she’s “the first fashion doll made according to typical human body proportions to promote realistic beauty standards.” She’s shorter than Barbie, wider than Barbie, and available just in time for the holidays. Starting next month, you can enhance her average-ness with Lammily Marks, a packet of tattoos, cellulite, acne, and freckles that you can stick on your doll so she can even further look like a great deal of others.
There was so much enthusiasm around Lamm’s idea that he swiftly raised over half a million dollars through crowdfunding. People are embracing the idea of a doll whose proportions more realistically represent the average girl versus Barbie, whose super skinny legs, waist and hips make young girls everywhere feel as if they need Weight Watchers pronto. Our own Kirsten Hallie Krum wrote a great post last week about society’s perception of the ideal body image and the challenges she faces every day dealing with the fact that she doesn’t fit that mold. So it was interesting that on the heels of her post I came across an article about the Lammily Doll.
Reviews on Lamm’s website from buyers who’ve already gotten their hands on it are effusive with praise. “Thank you for making positive changes for our young girls!” says one reviewer. “Love the concept!” raves another. Yet for all the accolades, there are those who question whether Lamm’s approach actually is doing good for body image perception. The tagline on his website is “Average is beautiful.” And by “average,” we’re talking about those 19-year-old proportions: a 5’4″ tall, 33-inch waist white girl with straight brown hair. But what about if you’re an Asian girl, 5’9″ with a 37-inch waist? An overweight African American girl? Not average, ergo, not beautiful?
Designer Lamm has been quick to react to the criticism, especially to those who’ve taken to calling Lammily the “normal” Barbie. He’s publically stated that calling the doll normal is a simple way to describe her, yet it shouldn’t suggest that if a girl’s image doesn’t match those of the doll’s there’s something wrong with her.
There’s also the “average is beautiful” slogan that has some cringing. Are we really only aspiring to be “average”? Aren’t parents constantly telling kids to shoot for the stars, dream big, be anything they want to be? Who in the world wants to be simply average?
To me this is a whole lot of making sure a good deed doesn’t go unpunished. It’s easy to pick apart what Lamm is doing and criticize everything wrong with it. Where’s the diversity, for example? How come just a white doll? What about a doll for those who are heavier, taller, or disabled? Where are the dolls for those girls, hmmm? Those are valid concerns – Lamm, by the way, says he’s working on a diversity doll – but to address the detrimental body image perception that young girls of today have, there’s got to be a starting point. I think Lamm’s effort to celebrate “average” and bring young girls a doll that at least resembles their proportions a whole lot more than Barbie does is a step in the right direction. Stating that “average is beautiful” doesn’t mean it’s all we should hope to be. But the truth is, most of us aren’t born with supermodel looks and supermodel bodies. So why not make it OK to accept that and have a realistic looking doll who won’t contribute to 10-year-olds having an eating disorder.
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