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Move Over Barbie: Make Way for Lammily the World’s First Average Sized Doll

Move Over Barbie: Make Way for Lammily the World’s First Average Sized Doll

This is a big year for Barbie. The iconic doll celebrated her 55th birthday and appeared on the cover of Sport Illustrated magazine to honor its fiftieth anniversary, a much coveted spread.

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 byBarbie’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 Lammilys 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 Lammilys 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?

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Photo Credit: Lammily

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158 comments

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6:37AM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

Hollie F - you got that spot on.

Well observed, well realised... and well communicated.

1:23AM PDT on Apr 8, 2014

I think it's nice to have this toy as an option, but honestly, body proportions on dolls isn't the real problem if you ask me (Raggedy Ann wasn't realistically shaped and no one gives HER grief). I think the clothing on the other hand makes a big difference.

Let's take a look at this study for example. There was one flaw noticeable to me. Mrs. Potato Head obviously doesn't wear clothing either, so this study doesn't take into consideration that Mrs. Potato Head likely isn't relatable at all. Now for the two Barbies...we don't know whether the one with the dress or the doctor made the girls feel they had more decisions. I'd be interested to see the results. Here's why.

The doctor is more covered up...but is obviously in the form of a profession. A profession that is not easily relatable. The dressed up Barbie...fancy party dress? Also not as relatable.

But what little girls tend to do is befriend their toys. And what dolls like Barbie wear for their "everyday normal" clothing I think is what they bond to. Think about it. Barbie is ALWAYS seen in microdresses, or short shorts, or heels...any other sexualized clothing. Ditto for Bratz, ditto for Monster High. They're all glamourized and sexualized, but put them in normal jeans and t-shirt (and I mean clothes that really do cover up) and they suddenly don't look as bad.

I like this doll...takes some getting used to. But if they also insist on sticking her in short shorts and miniskirts, we'll still have a problem.

9:00AM PDT on Apr 5, 2014

I am too old to have actually played with Barbie however I was 12 when the first "High heeled doll" came out just a few years before Barbie. These dolls were shaped very much like Barbie with huge chests and tiny waists, and they were the ultimate sex symbol. My Mom was a Nurse by profession and was a seamstress as a hobby. She had taken many courses at the college and sewed and actually designed many of our clothes so she used all of her left over material and sewed my younger sisters and I huge wardrobes of everything from coats and sweaters to ski outfits for our dolls for Christmas. My mom was given DES to prevent miscarraige when I was born which they later discovered was an endricrine disrupter. I was built like a "linebacker" for the 49ers (I was born and raised in San Francisco) with a huge chest barrel, a very large head, very short legs that were not the same length and was about 160 pounds. At 12 I was just getting interested in boysa however as kids can be they were very cruel to me. This doll only made things much much worse because for some reason we belived that we were all going to look like this doll when we got older. Now we did not see any woman who actually looked like them except possibly the actress Anita eckberg (I think that was how she spelled her name) but we all wanted this long neck half starved looked. I was 12 and really too old for the doll and I also hated her with a passion. I threw her away and tore up all the clothes my mother had made. This

3:47PM PDT on Apr 1, 2014

I think this new doll is cute :) I would've played with her when I was little, and probably not really thought about how her proportions compared to other dolls. The only problem I have is the name, I understand where it came from, but it doesn't sound like a particularly common name to me (no offense if anyone has the same name). Maybe something more like "Lilly," if there's not already another doll by that name? Anyway it's a very cute doll and I hope they make more of them, as well as various other body types and ethnicities so that more girls will feel like they have a doll that looks more like them.

12:58PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

thanks.

10:15AM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

Looks like something you could buy in a Sex Shop.

10:03AM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

Meanwhile, everyone's crazy about Monster High... pretty sure this is the most boring doll I have ever seen in my life. She'd be cute as a person but, eh, I don't know, I don't get the doll thing anyways so I shouldn't even be commenting. Making custom clothes and learning to sew is about the only use I can imagine...

7:11AM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

So what's your point, Jordan?

I remember looking at barbies as a girl and thinking there was something wrong with her rib cage (so sue me, I wound up in a medical profession.)

You have a lot to say about the concept of "averages" but you don't seem to have given any thought to the effect that unrealistic expectations have on girls. I think the name "lammily" sounds too much like lamia, which is gruesome, but it's a step in the right direction to give kids dolls that actually resemble human females instead of grotesquely misshapen creatures. And that is the point, which you apparently missed.

6:13PM PDT on Mar 19, 2014

Second time writing this. It was deleted the first time, but I'm going to keep putting it back for people to read.

Averages are not average (statistically and anatomically speaking). There are so many things anatomically and statistically (and even psychologically) incorrect with that doll that there's not enough space to address them here. Also, it has taken homogeneity to such an extreme that it, too, looks bizarre (and unattractive in many ways -- she doesn't even have a nice smile ... is that necessary?).

In short, here's the real problem: there is no such thing as A woman or A doll or A (AN) anything. What's wrong with dolls of all shapes, sizes, skin and hair colors (with legitimate recognizable features), etc.? The toy manufacturers would make a ton more money! Matchbox didn't make only one car, because ... let's see ... oh, yeah ... there were many types of cars.

In any event, averages, as stated, don't necessarily yield something normal -- for a better example, do you really want to see a family with 2.3 children? Wow, would hate to be the 0.3 kid in that group!

PS: Not endorsing Barbie, other unrealistic expectations, haters of any sort, etc. It's just that newer or even "replaced" doesn't necessarily mean better or anything approaching being worthwhile. Sometimes nothing is better than something inferior -- which will, by the way, force the manufacturers to make something worthwhile!

3:41PM PDT on Mar 17, 2014

She looks like a cute doll.

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