It’s about time and it just happens to be just in time for Christmas: a doll that girls of all ages, shapes and sizes can relate to, play with and enjoy without being objectified or made to feel even more insecure about their bodies. Move over Barbie and say hello to Lammily, who is being called the “anti-Barbie” doll.
According to several online business articles, the doll is the creation of 26-year-old graphic designer Nickolay Lamm. It is being marketed with a unique sales pitch that claims “average is beautiful.” Lammily is short with brown hair. She has an average body shape and can even be given acne and cellulite — something many young girls can identify with since an hourglass figure, flawless skin, and flowing blonde hair are not exactly common place among most tweens and grade-school aged girls. Lamm told Business Insider that he came up with the idea while shopping for a doll for a gift and realized all the popular dolls look like supermodels.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a supermodel, but I just had the impression that the wall of supermodels suggests that something is wrong with you if you don’t look like one,” he said. “I created an alternative to suggest that it’s OK to not look like a supermodel; it’s OK to look like a normal person.”
Lamm did his homework, looking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a reality check in terms of what the average girl or young woman actually looks like. He learned that, according to the CDC, the average 19-year-old is around 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds. That’s certainly a far cry from the blond bombshell Barbie shape so many girls are used to seeing when they go to the mall or glance through the latest Christmas catalog or online store. Lamm said that early next year a Lammily clothing line will be available, complete with stickers that can add cellulite, acne and even moles for an extra dose of real life. The designer told International Business Times he hopes the stickers will not only help girls struggling with their own self-esteem issues but also help young people be more empathetic toward others. Lamm struggled with an eating disorder himself in high school, so for him the anti-Barbie is also very personal.
“Back in high school, I starved myself and exercised to exhaustion to have a set of six-pack abs,” he said. “After achieving my desired (body mass index), I looked and felt terrible. When I look at current fashion dolls, I’m reminded of my experience in high school. Moreover, I’m reminded that there is beauty in embracing all the aspects of who you are, and in staying true to you.”
The National Eating Disorders Association cites research showing that girls begin to worry about their appearance and in particular the number on the scale by the time they are 6 years old, and 40 to 60 percent of girls in elementary school are concerned about gaining weight.
According to the American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 80 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. These are just three statistics, and there are countless others, showing how obsessed children have become about their appearance. At a time when they should be carefree and enjoying their childhoods, it’s pretty obvious there is a lot more worrying than playing going on. Placing the anti-Barbie doll under the tree this year is not the cure for what ails our image-crazed culture. But if it helps even a little bit when it comes to not normalizing abnormal body expectations, that’s a special gift worth unwrapping and keeping close to your daughter or granddaughter’s heart.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.