Barbie backlash: Can doll with average proportions unseat Barbie from her throne?
A standard Barbie doll is pictured next to a 'Lammily' doll. The Lammily doll's body proportions are based of the measurements of an average American 19-year-old, creator Nickolay Lamm says. (Photo courtesy Nickolay Lamm)
Marlene Leung, CTVNews.ca
Published Thursday, March 6, 2014 12:51PM EST
A backlash is brewing against Barbie, the super popular toy doll from Mattel.
The iconic doll turns 55 on Sunday, one day after the world celebrates International Women’s Day. And as the doll enters another year on the toy market, she finds herself under attack from researchers, advocacy groups and an artist who wants to show that a doll with average proportions can be beautiful too.
The new Barbie?
Children may soon be able to play with a doll that looks more realistic than Barbie.
Nickolay Lamm is the creator of the "Lammily" doll, a toy doll that is designed to have body proportions that are in line with the average American woman.
Lamm set out to crowdfund $95,000 to begin production on the doll, and had already raised $105,000 as of Thursday morning.
The Pittsburgh-based artist first got attention last summer, when he created a prototype of the doll by using data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For his design, Lamm referred to the measurements of an average 19-year-old U.S. woman.
He then made a 3-D model of the doll and digitally altered it so it would resemble an actual toy. Lamm posted photos of his model side-by-side with an actual Barbie doll to the MyDeals.com blog.
"These images went viral and the response was overwhelming," Lamm says in a video posted to his crowdfunding site. "A lot of kids and parents were asking me, 'Where can we buy a doll like this?'"
Lamm said the doll's popularity stems from the fact that it promotes realistic beauty standards.
"Lammily promotes a healthy lifestyle; she is fit and strong. She has style and wears minimal makeup," he said.
He is now consulting with Roger Rambeau, former vice-president of manufacturing for Mattel, to find the best producers to make the doll. The funds raised will be used to cover the costs of the first production run.
Lamm said that a doll like his is needed so girls can grow up to be "happy" and "strong" women, who are "truly confident and proud in their own bodies."
Playing with Barbie can dampen girls' career aspirations, study suggests
Lam achieved his fundraising goal one day after a new study brought attention to the role exposure to Barbie has on young girls’ career ambitions.
A study from Oregon State University and the University of California Santa Cruz found that girls who played with Barbie dolls see themselves doing fewer occupations than boys.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Sex Roles, was designed to examine how playing with the popular dolls influences girls’ future goals.
The experiment compared 37 girls between the ages of four to seven, who were randomly assigned to play with one of three dolls: a Barbie doll wearing a dress and high-heeled shoes; a Barbie doll wearing a doctor's coat and stethoscope; or a Mrs. Potato Head doll outfitted with a purse and shoes.
After the girls played with their dolls for a few minutes they were asked to look at a list of 10 occupations and indicate which ones they could do in the future. They were also asked if boys could do the same jobs.
The study found that the girls who played with Barbie believed they could do fewer jobs compared to boys. However, the girls who played with the Mrs. Potato Head doll reported that they could do about the same number of jobs that boys could.
The researchers found no difference in the results between the girls who played with the Barbie doll wearing the dress, and the Barbie wearing the doctor's coat.
The study's lead author, Oregon State University Professor Aurora Sherman, said that exposure to the Barbie dolls – which are often designed with an emphasis on clothing and appearance -- can impact girls' perceptions of the world.
"Playing with Barbie has an effect on girls' ideas about their place in the world," she said in a statement. "It creates a limit on the sense of what's possible for their future. While it's not a massive effect, it is a measurable and statistically significant one."
Sherman said she is working on other studies that examine girls' perception of weight and body image based on different doll sizes and shapes.
Girl Scouts urged to end partnership with Mattel
Meanwhile, two advocacy groups are urging the Girl Scouts of the USA to sever its ties with Mattel over a promotional campaign featuring Barbie.
The campaign, which uses the slogan "I can be…", includes a Barbie activity booklet, a Barbie patch, and an interactive Barbie game for the Girl Scouts. In the game, players are asked to choose an appropriate accessory for different Barbies who work in different fields, including teaching, politics, fashion and architecture.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for a New American Dream both issued statements condemning the campaign.
"Parents trust the Girl Scouts to provide positive role models and foster their daughters’ healthy development," the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said in a statement. "That’s why it’s troubling that GSUSA has partnered with Mattel to promote the Barbie brand to young Scouts."
Both organizations have launched a petition asking the Girl Scouts to end the partnership.
With files from The Associated Press