Last summer, artist Nickolay Lamm decided to show the world what Barbie might look like if she had the CDC measurements of an average 19 year-old woman in America. Fast forward to present-day, and the idea of the ‘average’ Barbie is gaining momentum. Not only has former Vice President of manufacturing at Mattel, Robert Rambeau, taken an interest in Lamm’s idea, but Lamm just launched a campaign to raise $95,000 so that he can begin production on his doll. Lamm’s doll’s tagline is: “Average is beautiful.” So, what does an ‘average’ Barbie doll look like? Well, as noted above, the Lammily doll features typical CDC measurements of a 19 year-old girl, plus wears minimal makeup and simple clothing. The doll also comes with articulated wrists, knees, elbows and feet, which allow her to be positioned in a variety of active, sporty positions that keep her “fit and strong.” While this ‘normal’ Barbie is gaining some major fans and support and I can appreciate the idea in theory, I have to ask myself if ”average’ is really the ideal we want our kids to aspire to, and if this doll indeed fits the average mold.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
To be honest, ‘average’ Barbie isn’t so average in my opinion. Quite possibly, the actual average Barbie might be semi-overweight, dressed in FAR less boring clothing and my guess is that she’d be multi-tasking on her iPad and cell phone vs. carrying a soccer ball. Call me crazy, but as the mom of a tween and as someone who has lived with my friend’s two teen girls for the last three years, I find this average, well, not so average. None of my kid’s friends or my friend’s teens friends look like anything close to this Barbie. The kids and teens I know are always experimenting with unusual clothing, makeup and hair styles and very few choose sports over screen-time, thanks to our screen-based culture. I’m pretty sure the kids I know wouldn’t relate to this doll. When I was a kid, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have related to this doll either. Cursed with unruly curls from birth, I might have been crazy jealous of average Barbie’s nice straight hair, but I would have been insanely bored with the clothes and I’d have wondered where her lip gloss had run off to. Not to mention, as a thin, not so curvy teen, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to even average Barbie’s seemingly perfect breasts. A friend of mine even noted, “Average Barbie is too pretty to be average.”
My opinion: This doll is a great idea – FOR PARENTS hoping to dispel what they consider to be certain negative stereotypes — BUT because average Barbie only looks like a VERY small handful of girls I’ve met, she’s technically not so average. What about plus-size Barbie or a bit too skinny Barbie or taller than normal Barbie or acne Barbie or cosplay Barbie or really pretty popular Barbie. I mean, girls in general aren’t average so trying to achieve the perfect average doll seems a tough feat indeed. To really achieve the average doll, we’d need a line of Barbies in MANY different shapes, sizes, styles and colors.
What’s wrong with old-school Barbie? As a kid, I had dozens of ‘perfect’ Barbies and would endlessly use said dolls to engage in pretend play. I really didn’t think about their overly perfect figures and I didn’t, as I’ve noted before, grow up to be some basket case princess who needs saving. Dolls are toys. Period. Dolls, even ultra pink and sparkling dolls, aren’t gateway drugs to stupidity or helplessness as an adult. Some girls (and boys) love them and some don’t. Some love glitzy pink dolls and some will likely love this newer, average doll. But all kids deserve choices, because frankly, real beauty, fun and what’s ‘average’ are all in the eye of the beholder. Plus, let’s get real — long-term values don’t come from toys or pretend play but the adults and peers your kid is surrounded with. It’s something to think about when choosing toys for your child. If you surround your child with multiple play options and allow your child to also indulge in what she or he truly is drawn to while discussing media, stereotypes and other serious issues on the side, everything will be just fine. If you like the idea of adding another doll choice to the marketplace, Lammily could really use your help to cover the costs of tooling and molding, and meeting the manufacturer’s minimum order quantity, and you can make a donation here.
All photos courtesy of Nickolay Lamm