This Jewish designer's "average" Barbie doll will change how you look at women

Published March 27th, 2014 - 10:00 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

What if fashion dolls were made using standard human body proportions?  It’s a question that occurred to artist Nickolay Lamm while looking at a Barbie doll and thinking “it looked a little weird.”  

Barbies have been slammed for decades for their fantastical proportions; critics claim the super busty, thin-limbed dolls have a damaging impact on girls’ body images. Could a realistic-looking doll promote a healthier lifestyle?

 “If I can sometimes feel insecure, it’s hard for me to imagine what women have to go through,” Lamm told the Jerusalem Post, “They’re subjected to much higher beauty standards than men.”

So he posted an online image online of what Barbie would look like if her measurements reflected real women’s bodies, and named his creation “Lammily”. The project attracted gobs of media coverage and, urged to turn the concept into an actual doll, Lamm created 3-D digital prototypes and found a Chinese manufacturer.

The doll is made according to typical human body proportions, with an athletic physique and bendable joints. She is fit and strong, wears minimal makeup, dresses with striking simplicity, and lives by the credo “Average is Beautiful.”

But Lamm – who, like Barbie inventor Ruth Handler, is Jewish — insists he is not attacking the original. In fact, he consulted with Robert Rambeau, former Vice President of Manufacturing at Mattel, when selecting qualified manufacturers.

“I was just trying to make an alternative,” he said, “I can see girls playing with Lammily and other toys at the same time. I’m not really a crusading feminist. I’m just a normal dude with a laptop who thinks we could use another option.”

Lamm’s family emigrated from Russia to the United States when he was 6 years old. He grew up in Pennsylvania where he attended Jewish day schools through eighth grade, describing those years as “one of the best times of my life.”  He went on to study marketing at the University of Pittsburgh.

His Lammily doll is now poised for mass production, with first edition models being offered exclusively to backers on crowd-funding platform Crowdtilt.  Since March 5, Lamm has raised nearly $500,000 – four times his goal – which will enable him to get the doll into toy stores. He expects to be ready to ship in November.

“In the first hour, I thought it would completely bomb,” he said. “There were only four backers, including my mom. Then it picked up steam in an hour and a half.”

One looming Lammily problem relates to her limited wardrobe.  She owns a blouse, shorts and sneakers, and there’s no way she can squeeze into Barbie’s glamazon wardrobe. Lamm suggests that an enterprising designer could launch a crowd-funding campaign to launch a Lammily fashion line.

Hard to believe that sexy Barbie is nearly eligible for retirement benefits! Now, 55 years after the iconic fashion doll debuted in America, she’s influenced most fashion dolls around the world – most of whom share her ridiculous measurements. Says Lamm, “Rather than waiting for toy companies to change their designs, let’s change them ourselves by creating a fashion doll that promotes realistic beauty standards.”

The designer never played with Barbies but admits he was a fan of Transformers action figures.

By Laurie Balbo

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