If you’ve ever considered how representations of female bodies contribute to women’s negative body image – then you’ve realized that Barbie, the icon of little girl’s toys, may not be the best influence on a girl’s relationship to the reality of her body. Take a look at this comparison image that has been floating around the internet lately:
The numbers detailed are downright absurd. Her wrists and ankles are exactly the same size. Her bust is distinctly larger than her hips – and her waist is half the size of her bust. It seems like if she was a living woman she would fall over. Actually, we know she would fall over because her feet are permanently on tip toe so that they can fit into her plastic heels. That said, even if we put her unusual foot shape aside, Barbie is not a real shaped woman.
Because Barbie doesn’t even emulate the proportions of a living woman and therefore is an arguably poor influence on perceptions of women’s bodies, graphic designer Nickolay Lamm created The Lammily Doll. This doll and Barbie seem to come from two very different places. According to the Lammily Website:
- Lammily is made according to typical human body proportions and therefore promotes realistic beauty standards.
- Lammily wears minimal makeup.
- Lammily’s wardrobe isn’t composed of typical clothing for dolls – she is dressed with striking simplicity.
- Lammily is fit and strong.
Another positive attribute the of the new doll that the website does not mention is that Lammily represents more diversity than Barbie. She has brown hair and a darker skin tone than Barbie – which means that she can be understood as either Caucasian, Hispanic or of mixed race – whereas Barbie is pretty much descendant from Aryans.
Lammily was crowdfunded and she was a great success. Lamm initially posited that to manufacture his doll he needed $95,000. He raised $465,952. This kind of response points out that we are hungry for representations that actively reject impossible body ideals and embrace a more empowered image of womanhood.
While I know Lammily is a step in the right direction – I find that I am still disheartened because I don’t really feel like she looks like the women in my life. She still idealizes a certain age and health standard and this “average” seems almost as mythical as Barbie’s disproportionate one. Perhaps Lammily needs some friends – a black girl, a fat girl, a differently-abled girl, a trans girl, a pear shaped girl, a girl with thick thighs, a girl with a juicy bootie, a curly haired girl, and yes, a blond girl… Obviously I could go on for ever.
What I’m trying to say is that Lammily is awesome, but she is just the beginning. If we really want to forward positive representations of people’s bodies than we need to genuinely represent ALL bodies.