To the feminist mothers of America: Nickolay Lamm is coming to your rescue. Come November, a new doll will join Barbie in the toy aisles and maybe knock her off the shelves altogether. After Barbie’s fifty-five year reign as Doll Queen, this will be no easy feat, but Lamm’s design – the “Normal Barbie” – endeavours to give it a shot. In twenty-four hours the doll, called “Lammily,” completed her Crowdfunding campaign by raising over $95,000. This money will fund production and sale of Lammilys starting in November.
Published by news powerhouses such as Good Morning America, Huffington Post, Time Magazine and the BBC, Lammily’s story made it to the big time even before completion of the doll herself. Taking the average dimensions of a nineteen-year-old woman, Lamm first modeled the doll digitally and printed her out using a 3D printer. Though she came out as solid white plastic, Lamm colored, dressed and packaged images of his creation using Photoshop.
The doll, currently available for pre-order, comes with real clothes, which are more modest than typical Barbie fashion. Lamm told Huffington Post he aimed for a look resembling that of J. Crew or Gap. However, Barbie’s fashion is not the problem. While the hot pink skirt suit might seem a little far-fetched for President Barbie, and Work-Out Barbie would have realistically sweated off that heavy blue eye shadow and pink lipstick, her fashion choices could typically pass as a form of personal style, self-expression or occupation-appropriate uniform.
Much of Barbie’s clothing choices represent a stereotypically feminine take on an everyday outfit, but dolls are allowed to be girly sometimes. Who wants to dress a doll in boring clothes? With this in mind, the ‘average Barbie’ loses some appeal. With such simple outfits, Lammily eliminates the fantasy and excitement of Barbie’s world.
Still, Lamm’s ‘Normal Barbie’ provides young girls with a realistic model of beauty. Many critics have offhandedly suggest Barbie should just eat a hamburger or two to get a little more meat on her bones, or more realistically that manufacturers could just thicken the plastic a bit in places, but Barbie’s design flaws go beyond just a need to gain a few pounds. A human with such proportions wouldn’t be able to fit all the organs needed to digest those couple burgers. Lammily can still rock a bikini or sports bra and running shorts. Being average doesn’t make her unattractive or overweight – just normal.
Barbie has a half-century head start and a hyper-sexualized popular culture to back her up, but Lammily might be just the change the feminist in all of us craves. Lots of little American girls have blonde hair, and many would like to wear makeup like their moms or older sisters. Barbie’s extravagant outfits play on many kids’ love of dress-up games. These features, while scorned by some feminists, won’t destroy a child’s future with falsified ideals. However, Lammily’s key difference in proportions sets her apart to even the half-hearted feminists of America. We all like to look in the mirror and feel pleased with what we see. Maybe more of us could feel this way if the dolls we idolized as kids actually resembled us.
Fifty-five years from now, hopefully we’ll find ourselves happily under the reign of a new doll queen. By then, protective mothers will likely stand for some new cause. Yet if that means Lamm’s fight is won, we might as well line up now to shake his hand. He’s about to teach the world that “average is beautiful.”
Sonja Nelson ’16 firstname.lastname@example.org is from Minnetonka, Minn. She majors in English and Spanish.