With such fame, however, comes much controversy. For years people have questioned Barbie’s unrealistic body proportions and the effect playing with the doll can have on a young girl’s self-esteem. Barbie’s Sports Illustrated cover has added fuel to this debate with many calling out both Mattel and Sports Illustrated for promoting an unhealthy definition of beauty.
Occidental College professor Lisa Wade who is a feminist and media critic says the following about the cover: “Both Barbie and the swimsuit issue have been making women and girls feel inadequate for decades. It’s a perfect partnership.” (Ouch!)
Mattel has remained unapologetic (as evidenced by Barbie’s hashtag on Twitter announcing her swimsuit cover) throughout the criticism, noting Barbie’s 150 careers throughout the years as evidence of her positive influence on girls. A new study, however, quickly discredits these claims. In the study girls ages 4 to 7 were given one of three dolls to play with: Barbie in heels and a dress, Barbie dressed up as a doctor, or Mrs. Potato Head. After playing with the dolls for a few minutes, girls were asked questions about different jobs for their futures. The study found that girls who played with Mrs. Potato Head thought they had more career options than those who played with either Barbie. The creators of the study say the results, “prove that girls, even at a young age, can recognize the sexualized nature of Barbie, as well as her unrealistic body shape, and that these things feed into a girl’s understanding of gender roles.”
Now for some good news – for little girls, not Barbie, that is.
Thanks to the ingenuity of Nickolay Lamm, the Pittsburgh-based artist whose designs of “Normal Barbie” recently went viral, a new doll for girls to play with is just on the horizon. Lamm created the 3D doll based on his initial design which used measurements of an average 19-year-old woman from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. He launched a crowdfunding campaign this week to produce 5,000 Lammily dolls, and in just a few days it reached and exceeded its goal with over 6,500 backers!
We sat down with Lamm this week to talk about his incredible project:
Care2: What inspired you to create Normal Barbie?
Lamm: 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.
What have been girls‘ responses to Lammily?
The girls I showed it to say that it looks like them and that she looks warm and inviting. They say she’s cute!
What effect do you think Lammily will have on the body image of girls who play with her?
Because Lammily is made according to typical proportions, she is saying that you are beautiful as you are, to those who play with her. You don’t have to have unrealistic proportions to be beautiful, you are beautiful as you are.
What is Lammily‘s future? Will we be able to buy her in stores one day?
My aim is to make Lammily available in retail stores. But, for now, my goal is to get Lammily to its backers on time.
Your crowdfunding campaign launched this week and you have already exceeded your goal? Why do you think this is?
An alternative like this doesn’t exist, so I think people are just excited that this alternative is finally here. I had no idea it would meet the goal this fast.
Over the years we have seen Barbie in many different careers? Do you have plans to create Lammily‘s with different career ambitions?
Lammily will come in different ethnicities and other healthy body shapes. Lammily will be diversified, but not through careers, most likely through activities.
With the recent success of GoldieBlox and now Lammily, it is clear that toy trends are evolving and breaking away from the restrictive gender stereotypes of the past. I for one cannot wait to see what other innovative toys are developed for my future daughter to play with.
What do you think? Would you buy a Lammily doll or GoldieBlox?
Photo Credit: Lammily