If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet in the past year, you’re familiar with “Average Barbie,” the Barbie doll with real-life proportions created by digital artist Nickolay Lamm. Celebrated as a commentary on pop culture’s unrealistic depictions of women’s bodies, the images inspired a rash of impassioned inquiries from consumers wanting to know where they could procure one of their own. Now Lamm is on a mission to create just such a toy, named Lammily, available through a crowdsourcing project. “Everyone has at least had a feeling that we want to change something about ourselves,” says the 25-year-old University of Pittsburgh graduate. “Part of this may have to do with the images we see on TV, in movies, and in magazines. I thought that if I could feel like that, I can’t imagine what women have to go through.”
Using his research on average body proportions, Lamm gave Lammily a shorter and wider figure than that of her famous predecessor. The designer also opted for brown hair and minimal makeup in lieu of flowing golden locks and a photo op–ready face. To promote a healthy lifestyle, Lammily sports movable elbows, wrists, knees, and feet, complemented by a girl-next-door outfit.
The artist spent nine months working to bring last year’s prototype to market, recruiting the expertise of former Mattel executive Roger Rambeau. Now he’s enlisting the support of interested buyers to start manufacturing. “My goal with Lammily is to show that average is beautiful, that you don’t have to set unrealistic expectations for yourself,” he says. Although he hopes the project will succeed, Lamm doesn’t have sales projections. What about the naysayers who insist that Barbie is just a doll? “They’re right,” Lamm says. “But if there are studies which suggest she may have a negative influence on girls’ body image, then there should at least be an alternative to Barbie.” (By Kristina Bravo)