A Barbie That Looks Like...Me?
For the record, I was obsessed with Barbie dolls as a little girl. My mom still has bins and bins and bins of my old Barbies and Barbie-related accessories in our basement, half for sentimentality and half for the times my younger cousins need a distraction during long family events. Even if they weren't Barbies, if there was a figurine that I could manipulate into an unnatural gymnastics pose, or dress up in shiny velcro outfits, or give an impromptu "hair makeover" to, I most likely owned it.
And like most young girls, I used to have major self-esteem issues when it came to my body. I didn't (and still don't) have stick-thin legs with a gap in-between, I most definitely didn't have bright blonde hair (I'm more of a mousey, stale chocolate brown), and my skin isn't creamy, tan, and flaw-free like Barbie's. But as a child, this wasn't something that consciously ran through my mind—I just stuck with the fact that I would forever be a pudgy girl with crooked fringe, gapped teeth, and bruised knees—and I continued to play with a doll that had warped proportions.
Luckily, some have opted to change the toy-doll landscape for the better; enter Lammily, a doll that touts the slogan "Average is Beautiful." The doll made waves in March when she was first conceptualized and introduced by her creator, artist Nickolay Lamm. Lamm's goal was to create a toy that utilized the proportions of an average 19-year-old woman so that boys and girls alike would have something to play with that actually looks like a normal girl.
Plus, Lammily can be customized with stickers that feature freckles, scars, tattoos, bruises, and other marks of the real, honest-to-goodness side effects of adolescence. Some of the stickers included, such as acne and stretch marks, aren't pretty, but they're authentic—which is exactly the point of the Lammily doll in the first place. She looks like a sister, a friend, a classmate, your babysitter; she can look athletic, bruised, eclectic, or artsy. What's more, her flexible limbs bend in ways that allow her to do things normal Barbies can't.
Although some think that the Lammily doll won't make much change, I wish that I would have at least had the option to choose a doll that wasn't a total reflection of the extreme physical standards girls constantly face. "It's just a plastic toy, it doesn't make girls have self-esteem issues!" is a common echo across the comment sections of articles about Lammily, and true, it is just a doll. But the point is that now children have options for how they play and what they play with.
When given the choice, kids maybe won't always jump at the politically correct toys, but at least now they have the freedom to choose at all. The new market for toys that empower girls, like GoldieBlox, is an exciting prospect. I'm hopeful that Lammily will take off (seeing as she already has over 22,000 preorders in place, it's a good bet) and continue to evolve with even more dolls in all shapes, colors, ethnicities, and sizes.
As an experiment, a group of second-graders were given a Lammily doll to examine and review. The results? Overwhelmingly positive. See for yourself below:
Image of girl holding doll via Shutterstock