Sure, Barbie is just a doll, but turns out that even if you 'know' that she's not real, most young girls still internalize her (crazy-disproportionate, couldn't-stand-if-she-were-human) body. Study after study has proven that playing with Barbie dolls has a direct, measurable, and profoundly negative effect on the mental health of little girls. This study shows how playing with the doll negatively affects self-esteem, and this one disturbingly shows how playing with Barbie changes the kinds of future jobs little girls consider for themselves (post-Barbie, the landscape narrows considerably).
Researchers in the former study write, "...early exposure to dolls epitomizing an unrealistically thin body ideal may damage girls’ body image, which would contribute to an increased risk of disordered eating and weight cycling," and in the second they said, "Perhaps Barbie can “Be Anything” as the advertising for this doll suggests, but girls who play with her may not apply these possibilities to themselves."
But what's the alternative if a kid wants to play with dolls? How about Lammily: shown above, she's based on Centers for Disease Control measurements for an average 19-year-old American woman)? She looks healthy, normal, active (she has articulated arms and legs, which means the doll really can move around); capable of kicking a soccer ball around and kind of like the girl who sat in front of you in history.
Designer Nickolay Lamm, following the positive response to his body image projects ongoing over the past year-plus, took a simple question and ran with it: "What if fashion dolls were simply made off of standard female body measurements?" He created a 3D model, and encouraged by the positive media reception to it, has now put the doll into production—working with a former Mattell VP, no less.
"Lammily promotes realistic beauty standards, because she is made to typical human body proportions," says Lamm, in the video below.
Now parents (and aunts, uncles, teachers and babysitters) have a healthy, realistic alternative to Barbie to buy—but will they purchase one and put their money where their concern is? For the women of the future, let's hope so. You can buy a Lammily doll here.
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