Since 1959, Barbie has been one of the most successful toys in the United States, making her way into the homes of young girls for generations. Those 55 years have not gone without its fair bit of controversy, however. Much fuss has been made over the years regarding multiple aspects of Barbie's lifestyle, namely her choices of profession, wardrobe, and most recently, her obscene proportions. Now, though, a "normal Barbie" project by Nickolay Lamm has confronted Barbie's unrealistic proportions issue heads-on.
Instead of writing a moving op-ed about how detrimental it is for Barbie to possess such ridiculous body-measurements, Lamm decided to be a bit more proactive. In a recently started crowd-funding project, more than $150,000 has been raised to help Lamm's dream come to reality.
Lamm's creation is a Barbie-esque doll which differs in one major area: body proportion. Lamm used statistics from the US Center for Disease Control's database to research the proportions of an average, 19-year-old girl living in the United States: "Right now, there is no doll like this on the market. My goal is to make an affordable doll, which promotes realistic beauty standards, and that's something which doesn't exist yet... I spent lots of time and research to create a doll which daughters are going to love. She isn't just a doll with typical body proportions, she's a fun doll which just happens to have typical body proportions. And everything from the packaging, to future ad campaigns, to future online interactive worlds, will be designed to appeal to kids," stated Lamm.
The product comes to fruition on the heels of recent controversy caused by Barbie's appearance in the most recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine. Much flak was raised on the internet by people complaining that glorifying Barbie's unrealistic proportions was detrimental to the physical and mental health of future generations of females who would be struggling to live up to such an image.
Barbie's outlandish proportions have gone under account from multiple spheres, the most critical opinion of late coming from those at Rehabs.com, who created a campaign against the unnatural beauty of Barbie entitled "Dying to be Barbie."
Executives at Mattel are not planning to back down in the proportion battle anytime soon, however. Mattel recently released a statement from Barbie in which she claims that "Today, truly anything is possible for a girl. Let us place no limitations on her dreams, and that includes being girly if she likes. It’s easy to say the culprit is the color pink or the existence of makeup. That’s easy, and predictable. Neither prevents girls from excelling in their own fashion. Let her grow up not judged by how she dresses, even if it’s in heels; not dismissed for how she looks, even if she’s pretty. Pink isn’t the problem... Barbie® dolls” aren’t the problem. Models choosing to pose in a bikini aren’t the problem. The assumption that women of any age should only be part of who they are in order to succeed is the problem."
This statement was part of the bigger Barbie campaign to be #Unapologetic about anything in her life.
— Barbie (@Barbie) February 1, 2014
While Mattel and Barbie have the right to portray their product in any way they which, context matters. In today's day and age when people are more cognizant of the detrimental affects unachievable standards of beauty have on youth (both male and female), maybe it's our responsibility to bolster a doll which does not suffer from issues of brittle bones, half a liver, or a much-too-large cranium. Perhaps the fact that Lamm's initial funding goal of $95,000 was surpassed by $71,000 in less than one day has already answered that charge.
Image via Nickolay Lamm