‘Normal’ Barbie


4 July 2013 by thaliakr

This is an update of a post from 2013, with even more Barbie-critique goodness.

What if Barbie dolls had the same proportions as normal women?



Art and photo credit: Nickolay Lamm and MyVoucherCodes.co.uk

Nickolay Lamm has recreated a typical blonde Barbie, but at the average proportions of a 19-year-old American woman (he took the measurements from the Centre for Disease Control). And you know what? Real-girl Barbie looks amazing.

The project was at first an experiment to see what the difference would be, but after the toy was created Lamm discovered that the average American 19-year-old female figure looks great in plastic toy form, so then why aren’t these measurements just used by Mattel?

“A lot of people say we shouldn’t criticise Barbie because she is a toy,” Lamm explained to us. “However, if there’s a small chance that it’s negatively affecting young girls, and if normal Barbie looks awesome, why not create normal Barbie?” Touché.

Lamm has also done the inverse, creating images of real women with Barbie proportions:


Art and photo credit: Nickolay Lamm and MyVoucherCodes.co.uk


Lammily has been manufactured! The tagline: ‘Average is Beautiful’. I like that.

Check out the release video, showing the difference between Lammily and Barbie-style dolls:

If you’re entranced by the possibilities, also check out this video of a bunch of seven-year-olds playing with new Lammilys and being interviewed about them. You don’t really need to watch the whole five minutes.

Here are some highlights, from a Time article on it:

Most of the kids thought the doll, available for purchase Wednesday, looked kind of familiar.

“She looks like my sister!” one girl exclaimed, smiling. “She kind of looks like my aunt Katie,” said another.

“She looks like a regular girl going to school.”

“She looks like she would help someone if they were hurt.”

“She’s not like other dolls… she looks real.”

That reality check didn’t prove to be a bad thing. When presented with a blonde and busty Barbie, the children said that they’d rather have the one who, if real, “would be able to stand.” A very apt observation, considering previous research showing Barbie wouldn’t be able to lift her head fully if she were an actual human.

[Read more at Time.]

The new Lammily takes it one step further, too, supplying accessories like acne and stretchmarks. How cool is that?

In other artistic commentary on Barbie, So Bad So Good drew Barbie’s proportions on a model:


Next up, Jason Freeny tried to fit a human set of organs inside Barbie’s proportions with limited success, and the BBC did some similar research and graphic stretching in this article.

Or what if we went for some more realistic themes for Barbies? Cindy Lopez and Virginia Simons have created Sleep-Deprived Barbie, Workaholic Barbie and Winter Weight Barbie:


Image credit: ScaryMommy.com and Cindy Lopez and Virginia Simons

You know I’m not a fan of Barbie, and her body shape is the main reason. But many of us were fascinated by the Architect Barbie project, and I wonder if I or you would be keener on having Barbies in the house if they were proportioned like ‘normal’ human beings?

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3 thoughts on “‘Normal’ Barbie

  1. Caroline says:

    Yes – definitely more keen on having them in the house if they were more normal.

    I have to admit that we do have one in the house though as I couldn’t explain why my 4 year old couldn’t have one without getting into a in depth discussion of body image, which I’m not sure it’s helpful to bring up at all at the age of 4. I don’t want to give her a complex about it before it’s even occurred to her! Any ideas on that one gratefully received!

    • That’s really interesting, Caroline.

      How to explain an embargo without explaining why (because it defeats the point)? This must just be the first of a few occasions this will come up, right? Things that kids are innocent about – drugs, sex, for instance – but still don’t belong in their lives at all.

      How have people with older kids handled these kinds of things? Is there a place for a very occasional ‘trust me, there’s a good reason’ line? Or can you get away with ‘in our family, we don’t have Barbies’, or ‘in our family we think Barbies aren’t for little girls, but you could decide to have one when you are ten’? The truth but not the whole truth, with the gaps to be filled in when appropriate.

      Thoughts, everyone?

      • Caroline says:

        The “you can have one when you’re older” line fell apart when it became apparent that all her friends have Barbies (not that that’s a reason in itself, but I felt I couldn’t sustain that line any more). I decided the easiest way to make a non-issue out of it was to get a Barbie and it hasn’t actually been played with that much – although I suspect it’s a toy she’ll come back to. The most played with toys in our house are the teddies, which come in all shapes and sizes.

        Actually, the thing she has is not strictly a Barbie – it’s a Disney princess doll, which looks enough like a Barbie to satisfy her, but it not QUITE so hideous IMHO.

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