Posted: March 14, 2014, 2:30 p.m.
by Morgan Daniels.
Women often suffer from low self-esteem and negative body image thanks to the impossible standard of beauty seen in the media and mainstream culture. These issues become noticeable in teens and adults, but the seed of dissatisfaction is planted at a much younger age. According to the director of the Institute for Communication & Information Research and full-time journalism professor at The University of Alabama Dr. Kimberly Bissell, who specializes in the media’s effect on children, dissatisfaction with the body has been observed in girls as young as 4 years old.
“Body image distortion and negative body image are not things that start once women start college,” Bissell said. “This type of negative self-perception begins long before women hit double digits. Research indicates now that girls as young as 4 and 5 years old are indicating a desire to be thinner. This is not something that just occurs to a 4-year-old girl; this is something that is learned.”
Girls are growing up uncomfortable in their own skin because they want to be like the role models in their lives. But more often than not, a 4-year-old girl’s role model isn’t an actual person, it’s her doll. The worst offender of instilling unrealistic body images in small girls is none other than the famous Barbie doll herself.
“I definitely think for some girls, playing with dolls with unrealistic body shapes can contribute to negative body image,” Bissell said. “I have two daughters, and neither of my daughters played with Barbie dolls.”
Barbie has been criticized over and over again for her unrealistic body proportions but until recently, there wasn’t a realistic alternative. Now there is.
The alternative is a doll called “Lammily,” and she has been an Internet sensation twice already, before ever hitting the production line. Artist Nickolay Lamm created the doll using the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body according to the CDC website. The doll’s first public appearance came in July 2013, when Lamm’s 3-D rendition of a Barbie doll with the proportions of an average woman swept across the Internet. At this point, Lammily only existed as an art project but the public demanded more.
“After my original project I got a lot of emails,” Lamm explained during a March 2014 phone interview. “I read all of them along with every comment online, and the overall consensus was ‘where can I get a doll like this?’ I decided to make it so they could get one.”
With the encouragement from his online audience, Lamm embarked on the mission of transforming Lammily from an art project into a real doll. Lammily is designed to look different in the face, hair, and overall appearance from the original project that looked more like Barbie. Lamm says he wanted to add his own personal touch to the doll that was about to become a reality. Instead of selling his idea to a toy company, Lamm turned to the people who inspired him to make Lammily a reality in the first place — the people who reached out in support of his original project.
On March 5, 2014, Lamm launched a 30-day crowdsourcing campaign through CrowdtiltOpen with a goal of raising $95,000, just enough to start production of Lammily. The campaign took all of an hour to take off, reaching the goal of $95,000 in less than 24 hours.
“The immediate success of the crowdsourcing campaign for Lammily was definitely a shock,” Lamm said. “I knew it was either going to bomb or go very well, and I was thrilled when it got the goal of $95,000 in less than a day. It was the best feeling in the world.”
As of March 13, 2014, the campaign is at 442 percent of the goal with 11,743 backers and $418,998 raised to go toward the production of the average-sized Lammily doll. With the monetary part of producing the doll achieved, Lamm is now taking other steps toward bringing Lammily to production. The doll gained the attention of the former vice president of manufacturing at Matell, who is helping Lamm find manufacturers, with the feasibility of the design and all the small details that go into making a toy doll.
Some of those details include smoothing out the doll for production purposes, incorporating joint technology so the doll has realistic movements and including different wardrobe choices. Lamm said that Lammily will advocate a healthy, fit and stylish lifestyle through her simple outfits, light makeup and sensible shoes.
Lamm explained that the doll’s name was formed from his last name and the fact that it started out as a family project, forming the name Lammily. He clarified that Lammily is the brand name of the doll and that the girls who get Lammily dolls can name them whatever they want. Although Lammily seems to be marketing and selling herself right now, Lamm still gave her a tagline, “Average is Beautiful,” to help further perpetuate the idea behind Lammily and spread her message.
“Has there ever been a non-beautiful, average sunset?” Lamm asked. “It’s who you are naturally that is beautiful. There is nothing wrong with having an average body, and everyone should know that average IS beautiful.”
As of now, Lammily is only available as a 19-year-old Caucasian female with brown hair. Lamm does have future plans to branch out in terms of Lammily’s ethnicity, race and hair color, but he wants to get this first batch of dolls out to everyone who is backing his campaign.
It’s not too late to support the campaign and get a Lammily doll of your own by visiting the official website. Those who back the crowdsourcing campaign are expected to receive the first Lammily dolls in November 2014.
“I’m just very happy it’s working out and that Lammily is going happen,” Lamm said. “I have spent many months and many hours on this project, and it’s very cool that people share my vision that average is beautiful.”