New doll, Lammily, takes on Barbie, Beauty, and Body Image

by Jill Nagel

Barbie backlash has begun. Since her inception in 1959, Barbie has been a childhood staple, but with her slim build and unattainable figure, has she done more harm than good?  Body image is a complicated issue and many people are blaming the beautiful blonde. A 2006 study from the University of Essex found a link between body dissatisfaction and exposure to Barbie, in very young girls. In February, Barbie graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition and caused an uproar. Nickolay Lamm created an internet sensation back in December, when he published “What would Barbie look like as a normal woman.” So, if Barbie is so harmful, why hasn’t anyone done something? As it turns out, Lamm has put his money where his mouth is, or more accurately, your money. Enter Lammily.


By Nickolay Lamm

Lammily is the average 19-year-old girl—literally. The doll’s proportions and measurements were created from CDC data. Gone are the ridiculously long legs of other fashion dolls. They’re replaced by a more athletic build. The make-up has been wiped from her face and she’s traded Barbie’s trademark pink for a simple, blue top and shorts. Standing at 10.72 inches, she’s shorter than most fashion dolls, but closer to the height of a teenage girl.

The crowd-funded project was launched on CrowdtiltOpen on March 5, with the tagline Average is beautiful and Lamm encourages all of us to be the change we want to see in the industry.

Rather than waiting for toy companies to change their designs, let’s change them ourselves by creating a fashion doll that promotes realistic beauty standards.

The people seem to agree with him and within 24 hours, Lamm’s goal of $90,000 was not only reached but surpassed. With 18 days left of the campaign, Lammily has raised nearly $450, 000 (and counting) with the help of over 12,000 backers. Each backer will receive a first edition Lammily doll and may become part of pop culture history. Young women need role models and it’s encouraging to see people using this doll as starting point to talk about body and self-esteem issues.

Still, as Lammily’s popularity continues to grow, some are beginning to question their reliance on body image alone, to sell the doll. Let’s be honest, Average is Beautiful, is not the most uplifting tagline (especially compared to Barbie’s “Be who you want to Be.”) There’s no call to action, no excitement, and no…well…fun.  While Barbie, Monster High, and American Girl have created a vast line of interesting, unique, and exciting dolls (complete with clothing, accessories, and personalities) Lammily falls a little flat. She may not be Barbie, but who is she? We just don’t know. Her style is more Soccer Mom than Soccer Star, and really, is that really what little girls want to play with?

Lammily - Fresh Print Magazine

By Nickolay Lamm

Barbie has hundreds of careers to choose from, Monster High is inspired by ghouls from around the world, and the American Girl dolls combine playtime with history. Even Cabbage Patch Kids have their own unique stories. Lamm hopes to expand his line to include other races and body shapes, but without a successful launch, that’s only a dream. He’s going up against successful, well-branded properties, and being average can only take you so far. There have been “body accurate” dolls before but none of them created any staying power. Lammily has caught the eye of the world. If she fails, that’s one more checkmark in the “realistic dolls don’t sell” category and a major roadblock to overcome. Give her a story. Make her an athlete. Create a world that kids can grab onto. Otherwise, she’ll be forgotten. Make her more than just her body. Isn’t that what you’re trying to accomplish?

Lammily - Fresh Print Magazine

By Nickolay Lamm

Without creativity, Lammily becomes one more body image standard that girls will compare themselves to, only this time with statistics emphasizing that she’s a realistic and attainable goal. I didn’t look like Lammily at 19. Neither did any of my friends. Averages are a manipulation of data. Do you think children will understand the difference? I’m afraid that without some changes, all that kids will hear is Lammily saying, “this is what you’re supposed to look like,” and that brings us right back to where we started.

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