Barbie, listen up: This new doll puts a more realistic body image in the hands of little girls.

Creator Nickolay Lamm has launched a crowdfunding site to produce 5,000 "Lammily" dolls.

They feature average proportions, a light amount of makeup, and bendy joints.

It's an alternative, Lamm says, to unrealistically thin dolls like Barbie, or the hyper-sexualized Bratz, which have traditionally dominated the market.

Lammily uses the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman.

Researchers at the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland found that if Barbie's proportions existed on a real human being, she wouldn't have the 17% to 22% body fat necessary to menstruate.

And while it's difficult to gauge, there is also some empirical evidence that Barbie could affect self-image.

People are also turning away from Barbie: In 2013, Barbie sales slumped by 6%, then showed a 13% drop from the previous year during the holidays.

Lamm will attempt to raise $100,000 to cover the cost of producing 5,000 Lammily dolls.

But one of his main challenges will be to get kids to go for something new.

Attempts at average-sized dolls in the past have failed to stick around, he says, but he guesses that's because the "average size" message wasn't appealing to kids. He's not planning on pressing that message.

"The key to differentiate is that my doll is a cool-looking doll that just happens to be average," he says.

"Very few kids are concerned about body image like parents are. It would be like me trying to feed them broccoli."

"Very few kids are concerned about body image like parents are. It would be like me trying to feed them broccoli."

"Very few kids are concerned about body image like parents are. It would be like me trying to feed them broccoli."

2014-03-05

Meet The Barbie With An Even More Perfect Body

The "Lammily" doll has the proportions of an average American 19-year-old. Can she beat Mattel for a slice of the toy market?

Over the last half-century, Barbie's cultural influence has almost been as exaggerated as her proportions. In the '90s, the average little girl in the United States owned at least one, likely spending hours tugging new outfits over Barbie's cartoonish, breast-like mounds and stuffing her stiff limbs into any household object that sort of resembled a convertible. But Barbie's plasticine shine is on the fade. And while she's fighting the PR war for her life, a new doll aims to put realistic, more malleable body images in the hands of little girls instead.

Here's the backstory: Last year, Nickolay Lamm, a Pittsburgh-based artist who specializes in the makings of Internet-friendly visualizations, designed what he called "Normal Barbie," an attempt to make the doll reflect more typical bodies. Using measurements of an average 19-year-old woman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he then molded them to Barbie's 3-D model. The result went viral.

Now, just as Mattel has been ramping up a questionable "unapologetic" campaign for the doll—including featuring her in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition—Lamm has launched a crowdfunding site to produce 5,000 "Lammily" dolls, models that feature average proportions, a light amount of makeup, and bendy joints. It's an alternative, he says, to unrealistically thin dolls like Barbie, or the hyper-sexualized Bratz, which have traditionally dominated the market.

"I feel like there’s a very good chance that those types of dolls affect young girls," Lamm said. "If there’s a very good chance like that, and if the average sized doll can actually look good, like Lammily does, let’s make it then. If there's even a 10% chance that those dolls affect [body image], let's make it."

Researchers at the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland found that if Barbie's proportions existed on a real human being, she wouldn't have the 17% to 22% body fat necessary to menstruate. And while it's difficult to gauge, there is some empirical evidence that Barbie could affect a girl's self-image: A 2006 study published in Developmental Psychology, for example, found that significantly more little girls exposed to images of Barbie (versus exposure to various picture books), reported being unhappy with their bodies and expressed the desire to be thinner then and as an adult.

There's no way to tell if it's the dissatisfaction with Barbie's form that has had an impact on Mattel's weakening sales numbers for the doll. Yet, in 2013, Barbie sales slumped by 6%, then showed a 13% drop from the previous year during the holidays. Last month, lead designer Kim Culmone also doubled down on Barbie's proportions in an interview with Co.Design's Mark Wilson, explaining away her starved proportions as necessary for the clothes, and asserting that the body image issue was moot.

But when I ask Lamm what he makes of Barbie's strange (and what Culmone would argue as necessary) proportions to service her clothes, he points to the fact that doll clothing could simply be thinner and more flexible. "I’m 100% sure there’s something called thinner materials, and that’s my response to [Mattel]. I actually put some Barbie clothes on my original model, and she looked pretty good."

Lamm will attempt to raise $95,000 to cover the cost of producing 5,000 Lammily dolls. But one of his main challenges will be to get kids to go for something new. Attempts at average-sized dolls in the past have failed to stick around, he says, but he guesses that's because the "average size" sloganeering wasn't appealing to kids. He's not planning on pressing that message.

"The key to differentiate is that my doll is a cool-looking doll that just happens to be average," he says. "Very few kids are concerned about body image like parents are. It would be like me trying to feed them broccoli."

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35 Comments

  • Lammily looks short and kindof fat to me. That's exactly why we need her. When people look at average, they see skinnier, and taller. Lammily was designed to show people what average really looks like, because we clearly don't know.

  • Nicholas Paul

    Kinda a side point, but if Barbie's affect how women/girls view themselves, why do we have such an epidemic of childhood obesity?

    Main point. I'm all for realism but we don't look up to people because they are average right? I mean who says, "oh yea I wanna be just like [insert random sports players name in here] because he's just so gosh darn average!" What I'm getting at is yes I think the current Barbies are ridiculous, it looks alien, but this constant talk of average just lets me know that my kids are going to be amazing compared to yours.

  • Tara Jean Olson

    this is LONG overdue! though, it is a welcome shift to reality for young girls

  • Michelle Turner

    I am so glad to hear the news of Barbie is cured of her very serious medical condition. Rumors have been generating for at least 30 years or more that she was suffering from aneroxia. Even though Barbie is still recovering, I was granted the oppurtunity to see her recently. Finally a much healthier healthier and realistic Barbie emerged. She appears to be " a toned and fit Barbie. This is exciting news for all the young little girls that idolize her to this day. Barbie has been a role model to little girls for so many years. My hope is that once barbie makes a full recover she will have a positive affect on these girls, by making changes to a more healthy lifestyle. Childhood obesity is at an all time high in this country, what better influence could they have instead of their role model? There is alot of positive changes that Barbie could make, Society needs to stop judging her by her "sex appeal" but judge her on her talents. Role Model is a powerful thing

  • Rick Dougan

    All the anti-thin women here crack me up. Can you imagine a man or even female car salesman saying this? "Ugh I cant believe that nobody will buy a car from me because I smell!! These people are so rude wanting to make me shower daily. Cant they accept the natural me? Why is it not whats on the inside that counts? It's natural to smell! They are just brainwashed by the media to think there is something sexy or 'valuable' about showering." How is this ANY different than telling young women to eat the correct amount of calories and work out the correct amount to have a proper pleasant body... JUST like we tell them to shower for the SAME reason.

  • Julien Lamour

    You are comparing hygiene to body shape. One is behavioral while the other physical.

  • Rick Dougan

    ????? Body shape is largely behavioral. Putting the spoon down (or I should say BigMac) is a behavior. So is running and doing squats. If women did more of those behaviors, they would be thinner and more pleasant.

  • Dana Cooper

    I never considered Barbie a role model, and I grew up playing with and then collecting dolls. The dolls were vehicles for my imagination. I never thought I was supposed to match Barbie's size. She had teeny, tiny feet! My feet were full-sized 9s when I was in my teens. I never asked anyone to bind them so that they could be more like Barbie's. I felt sorry that her feet had been bound.

    Did I hear that my breasts weren't big enough? Yes. But I never got that from comparing myself to Barbie. I heard that from boys my age and from grown men. If girls today have body image problems, that's not because Barbie "sets a bad example." It's from what they hear among their peers, their parents, and other adults.

    I'd welcome this Lammily doll. I doubt that she would overtake Barbie. If she can wear Barbie clothes, that's even better. The doll isn't that large. It would be a shame to make obese dolls under the guise of countering Barbie. Obese isn't healthy either.

  • I rather my six year old daughter play with a barbie that looks like this than a barbie who doesn't. It isn't a "fat" barbie at all. Everyone comes in different sizes and we should embrace that. Food is GOOD for you if you portion it properly and exercise is good too, but not everyone can look like someone from hollywood. Come on people, stop calling the girls who are a little bit bigger or even a lot bigger unhealthy. Skinny girls can be unhealthy too.

  • When your society teaches you to idolize unachievable (not mentioning unhealthy) beauty standars you are bound to be profoundly unsatisfied about yourself.

  • Every week I read about Americans being in the midst of an obesity epidemic and us being one of the five most overweight developed nations; now we’re presenting our average as ideal? I wonder what the Surgeon General would make of that.

  • Jes Vasko

    Does these dolls look obese to you? If they do then you have serious problems. Barbie's proportions aren't realistic, let alone average, no matter what country you're talking about.

  • Emmie Louise Selwood

    They may not look ideal, but then, neither is the English that 2/3 of you are spouting. Grammar people, this little island invented and gave it too you, try not to kill it. Thank You.