Barbie, Meet ‘Average Barbie’

Artist Nickolay Lamm has given Barbie a radical makeover

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Nickolay Lamm of MyDeals.com
Nickolay Lamm of MyDeals.com

More than 63 years after her debut at Toy Fair in 1959, Barbie finally has a body that looks like the average teenage girl. Designed by Pittsburgh, Pa.-based artist Nickolay Lamm, the look may not be more flattering, but it’s definitely more believable.

Average Barbie, who has not been endorsed by Mattel, is modeled off body measurements of a normal 19-year-old American girl using data from the CDC. She’s shorter and broader, with a smaller head and thicker neck. Standing next to Average Barbie, Mattel’s Barbie looks a little alien.

Lamm levels the same criticism at Barbie that many have offered since the doll’s debut — that her unrealistic body proportions present an unattainable standard of beauty for young girls. While we criticize skinny models regularly, dolls may be even more influential to girls’ development of body image standards, he argues.

(MORE: Mexico Barbie Doll Sparks Online Controversy)

“If Barbie looks good as an average woman and even there’s a small chance of Barbie influencing young girls, why can’t we come out with an average sized doll?” Lamm tells TIME. “Average is beautiful.”

Average Barbie is the third in a series of projects to bring the iconic doll closer to a real female figure. Previously, he used Photostop to strip Barbie of her signature makeup, including heavy mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and lipstick. The results were positively average. He plans to pursue the Barbie makeover further, possibly even exploring how to make a marketable version of the doll.

Lamm is not the first to criticize Barbie’s anorexic proportions, nor is he likely to be the last. Most recently, Mexican artist Eddi Aguirre drew a make-up free, frizzy haired, and brace-face version of the doll in April:

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BEHANCE.NET

Rehabs.com released an infographic around that time as well that outlined the differences between Barbie’s proportions and an average woman’s. It revealed that Barbie’s feet are so small and ankles so delicate that she would be unable to support her own weight without crawling:

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 2.01.08 PM

REHABS.COM

The original Barbie, released in 1959, had a 36-inch bust line paired with a minuscule 18-inch waist:

ss-110414-barbie-1959Barbie(SideFull).grid-5x2

Mattel

In the 1990s — in a nod of acknowledgement to a more typical female body — the toy company redesigned the doll’s figure, making her waist wider and chest smaller.  But Mattel’s Barbie never came close to the much more realistic proportions of Lamm’s new model.

Though Lamm doesn’t have a daughter, he says that if he did, he wouldn’t buy her Mattel’s Barbies. He would, however, give her an Average Barbie.

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47 comments
Elyon
Elyon

I think this Lammily doll is really boring and not very attractive.  Barbie is just FUN! (And she sparks the imagination--she's SUPPOSED to be make-believe)!  My daughter( and I, sometimes!) spent many happy hours dressing Barbie in her fabulous clothes--and making up stories for her. Happy memories.

marinatinsel
marinatinsel

Well I grew up playing with Barbies. I thought she was beautiful, but fundamentally a very beautiful doll. She came with lots of clothes and accessories. What did I do with all these barbies and clothes? I invented detailed stories which was a great creative outlet. Most girls I speak to who played with barbies did exactly the same thing as me. Not a single girl I have ever spoken to who played with barbies have ever blamed their insecurities on their barbies. Usually they blamed popular girls at school who made fun of them for being different in some way. Otherwise their insecurities usually stemmed from not quite looking as good as the beautiful, actual women in magazines and on tv. 
Most women I know who complain about barbies are women who never liked playing with barbies growing up and seem to have a need to justify themselves against all the women who once did. 

Seriously, people need to stop blaming a pretty DOLL for the problems young women face. Human psychology is far far to complex to blame on a doll. 



BuyGuns
BuyGuns

Coming soon.........Public Assistance Barbie.....complete with her own EBT Card, fake ID, and fresh PJ's for simulated fun shopping at WalMart. Get yours today. Just go to your local WalMart, go to the checkout counter, and the person behind you has to pay for it. Hurry while supplies last. Accessories Stole separately.

JoAnneSchmitz
JoAnneSchmitz

More than 63 years after her debut in 1959?  You do know that 1959 was 55 years ago, right?

PiercedUpRachy
PiercedUpRachy

I am 18, a size 15 / 17 pair of pants (depending on the maker), and roughly 180 pounds.

Personally, I don't think it's barbie that makes females feel like they're the wrong size.

Look at the actual people on magazine covers & TV & such.

There is rarely a model, actor/actress, singer, ETC who isn't petite. (Before I get bashing for saying that, notice I said RARELY, and it's changing... slowly).

Instead of directing things towards Barbie,maybe we should look at REAL people & what's REALLY going on.

I'm just saying.


Karen21242
Karen21242

Ok, speaking as a 5'3, 150+ lbs 20-year-old female, this really offends me. For starters, aside from the fact that it's STILL out of proportion (believe me, if your body looks like that, your arms are NOT that thin lol), like I said, I AM average, I go throughout my entire day being average, so when I go to play make-believe and fantasy (not really sure why anyone my age would still be playing with Barbies but let's roll with it), why on earth would I ever want to be average?! I wouldn't!!! That's the whole point of playing with Barbie, is to be something that you can't otherwise be! Second off, never in all my life have I ever met somebody who's biggest roll model is Barbie. That's what celebrities are for and if celebrities are so bad that a child resorts to plastic and rubber dolls as their roll models, it's society that needs fixed, not the dolls. And third off, if left to my own devices, I never would've noticed that Barbie was out of proportion. If you ask me, specific measurements aside, I think she looks more like a 5'9 athletically thin 25-year-old and although they might have different numbers, most kids who actually play with these dolls would probably agree. So is that the message that we really want to send? "Now Suzy, you're ok if you look average, but if you start looking better than average, we can't have that. We'll have to change you so the other kids don't feel bad about themselves." Like was stated in the comments before, Harrison Bergeron.

Prometheus
Prometheus

Though potentially damaging to set an unattainable standard of beauty for young girls, I cannot help but think... "Harrison Bergeron", Barbie-style. 

jkevin2
jkevin2

So when are all the muscle bound action figure toys going to redesigned into  the average overweight and balding American men?

screanam
screanam

OK. On one hand having young girls aspiring to be an unattainable stick figure of a toy doll is definitely bad, and possibly dangerous. On the other hand do we want young girls to aspire to be "average"? The "average" doll looks a little masculine, and the photo of the average teen below it, That girl looks a bit chunky, and might run into real weight problems by the time she's 30.......So what I get from this article is that the average teen is chunky, with probable weight problems later on. And that's what our teens should aspire to.........Sad. 

ruraynor
ruraynor

Average Barbie has gorgeous legs! I love the curves. Her waist looks a little odd because I'm so used to seeing a much more nipped in waist on dolls, but Mattel could learn a thing or two about crafting more believable legs.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

As with most things these days , it's all science fantasy .

SESquires
SESquires

Doesn't Time have copy editors anymore who might have noticed that 1959 was 53, not 63, years ago?

SpikeP
SpikeP

Looking at the original Barbie of '59 I'd say she looks just like an idolized movie star or model from that era. Blame society if you have the need to blame someone. Different eras have different aspirations. Look at the difference between the incredibly beautiful Lt. Uhura of the original Star Trek and the scrawny sickly one of the last two movies. Sad.

GaryRMcCray
GaryRMcCray

I think Barbie is more about aspiration than reality and in spite of the body proportions of (Average Barbie), her face looks more like a 30 year old than a 16 year old, Maybe Barbie's Mom.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

You've got to be kidding me. 

Mattel does not aspire to set targets for girls in the 'looks department.'

As a business, Mattel aims to create products that generate profits.  If a skinny, big-bust Barbie delivers the goods, than Mattel should continue that business model (no pun intended).

This 'new Barbie' looks far too masculine, and has a more serious demeanor than its predecessor.  The attractiveness factor is much lower, and the shorter size brings 'blonde Snookie' to mind.

New Barbie won't last for more than 2 years on the market, before someone forces Mattel to sober up, and return to its formerly successful model (pun intended).

Handthumb
Handthumb

Where's the muffin top & flabby arms? 

annabeth
annabeth

"the look may not be more flattering, but it’s definitely more believable"

This line buys into the exact views the artist (and presumably the article as well) is critiquing. I actually think the average Barbie Lamm made is prettier. She looks like a healthy surfer girl to me. 

El_zorro
El_zorro

They need to resedign Ken and give him a bigger package down there..just saying..

carjorbro
carjorbro

This article is stupid. Pls can someone tell why we would really like to know that barbie dolls have had a make over?

Superabound
Superabound

Wow, who knew that the "Average Woman" was still caucasian and blonde!

terylockitski
terylockitski

@NicholasSuntken Ok, fine. The shorter barbie looks strong and vibrant, the taller one looks unhealthy, sickly, and frail. Strong and vibrant wins in the beautiful category for me.

NicholasSuntken
NicholasSuntken

"average is beautiful"
What a crock! Average is not beautiful, Average is average. The entire reason we have words like beautiful is to express when something is above average. Please stop diluting the language just because you want to make somebody feel better.

ElizabethHockelemeyer
ElizabethHockelemeyer

@marinatinsel News flash, women on TV and in magazines are NOT real. Especially not in magazines. Not even close. Its called airbrushing and digital augmentation.

suzanne0886
suzanne0886

@marinatinsel  Nobody thinks that Barbie alone is responsible for body image issues. It's about not having young girls idolizing a doll that has such ridiculously unattainable proportions. I hardly think you can claim Barbie didn't influence you as a young child, your're not going to remember such slight influential details, but at that age every stimuli has some sort of affect on you. Just because there are more influential things in the world that tell us to be skinny doesn't mean we shouldn't make changes in the small things that affect children from a very young age. That's like saying I don't have to recycle since I wont that big of impact compared to the whole world, every little step helps.  

suzanne0886
suzanne0886

@PiercedUpRachy  Who says that this small step won't in some way affect girl's body image perception in the long run? I agree that other things are more influential, but that doesn't make this less important. Maybe this will somehow influence young girls and they will grow up with more body confidence, and not be so affected by models.

AndreaJoyMiller-Acker
AndreaJoyMiller-Acker

@Karen21242  Okay, FIRST OFF HONEY It is obvious you rarely speak to 3-6 year old girls (the ones who do actually play and fantasize about Barbies) I can say with assurance that she is so influential to young girls' idea of beautiful that  even when you raise your children in the rainforest of third world country they still see their cousin's barbies and say "ohh! She is soooo pretty... I want to be like her mama! By the time they are your age they don't say Barbie is their 'role model' (not the spelling dear) they say more asinine things like, ."...if left to my own devices, I never would've noticed that Barbie was out of proportion. If you ask me, specific measurements aside, I think she looks more like a 5'9 athletically thin 25-year-old" or "I go throughout my entire day being average, so when I go to play make-believe and fantasy, why on earth would I ever want to be average?! I wouldn't!!! That's the whole point of playing with Barbie, is to be something that you can't otherwise be!" THis is EXACTLY the kind of thinking Nickolay is seeking to expose with these images. You were offended because you thought the average barbie looked too fat and not as beautiful as the sickly anorexic one and you thought that one because, most likely you played with a lot of barbie dolls (maybe still do?) and that image is so ingrained on your mind now that you would actually try to defend it as looking healthy, excuse me 'athletically thin' The bottom line is little girls do not play with barbies thinking they are fantasizing about soemthign they can never be, they do so because she is supposed to be a beautiful grown up young woman and that is EXACTLY WHAT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM BELIEVES THEY CAN,  AND DESPERATELY WANTS TO BE one day!!!!


I hope Nickolay puts a whole line of 'Nikki' dolls into production so that my daughters might not grow up as jaded as you clearly are!!! 


Karen21242
Karen21242

@Prometheus Ha! That's exactly what I thought! Oh yeah, let's teach a bunch of young girls that they are ok as long as they look average and are not allowed to look beautiful. Yeah, there's no way that could have negative side effects! <.<  >.>

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@GaryRMcCray Average Barbie is an "average" of a 19 year old female American.  Aspiration requires that someone can actually achieve that which is aspired.  Barbie is purely fantasy, which is a bad thing to have little girls aspire to achieve since it's unattainable in real life without costly (and probably life-threatening) cosmetic surgery.

What gets me is that Average Barbie, to me, looks like Hayden Panettiere.  Last I checked, she's under 30.

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

@mrbomb13 Gee.  Sorry to hear that women like myself are "too masculine" for you because we don't have hips too narrow to possibly bear a child, and arms and legs too weak to even hold ourselves up. 

Personally, I thought the "average" Barbie looked rather attractive.  She also encourages girls AND guys that there's nothing wrong with being healthily thin in an athletic way rather than a starvation way.  Maybe you should try looking at the women around you and see who REALLY looks good to you. 

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@mrbomb13 Apparently you don't know how to read, or didn't read the story.

This creation called "Average Barbie" is not being sold by Mattel or anyone else.  It's the creation of an artist who wanted to show the difference between the unrealistic body image created by Mattel's fantasy called "Barbie" and what a doll of an average 19 year old American girl would look like. It's not intended to actually be a product that sells to anyone.  It's an object lesson.

Also, the redesigned Barbie, who was somewhat less unrealistic than the original, was created in the 1990's and has been just as popular as the original, so it's been on the market for 20 years (or more) and Mattel has yet to sober up since it's still selling nicely.  Mattel isn't going to replace her with the "Average Barbie" since, as I said, "Average Barbie" isn't for sale or a Mattel product.

It would also seem, from your comments, that you're just not into the typical, American, 19 year old girl, but seem to have a thing for fantasy dolls that no human female can actually become.

Oh, well, to each their own...

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@El_zorro He doesn't have a package to begin with.  It's a doll.  You're a twit.  Just saying...  (As if I didn't mean it when I did say it, which I did.  What, you think saying "Just saying" or "Bless his heart" doesn't mean you can be excused for being a twit by what you said earlier?)

r3mote
r3mote

@Superabound average dimensions, cutie. not average skin tone. get over the race bullschlacka, please... moving on.

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

@NicholasSuntken My guess is that your wife/girlfriend is closer to "average" than Barbie is.  Don't you still see her as "beautiful"?

Beautiful isn't a word which only needs to be applied to the atypical, after all.

ArtV
ArtV

@NicholasSuntken "Beauty" is always and always has been the creation of the ugliest straight men. And straight are f*cking hideous. Just sayin...

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@NicholasSuntken Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Beautiful is up to what you see.  What you think is beautiful may not be beautiful to me or anyone else.  And vice versa.  Furthermore, it's not dilution of the language to use perceptive-based descriptions such as "Beautiful" and apply it to "average", BECAUSE BOTH ARE ABSOLUTELY RELATIVE ON AN INDIVIDUAL SCALE!

The Lamm doll is kind of cute and IMHO far more beautiful than that Barbie thing.   The only reason she's called "average" is because she has the proportions of the average 19 year old American girl.

The Barbie doll is just plain scary.  It doesn't remotely look like anything real.  It's not something I'd want to run into in the streets in real-life.  It's certainly not beautiful.  But it stands as a "standard of appearance" to which girls seem to think they must adhere, and none can because Barbie doesn't have proportions found in any single human female.  The Lamm doll at least looks like someone I'd meet in the streets and not run away from screaming in panic.

Before one can dilute the language, one must understand what it is being diluted.  It would help if you understood the context in which this article is being written to begin with.

Mmr
Mmr

Actually the article is correct, average IS beautiful. Studies show that more average faces are considered more attractive. I'd bet this wouldn't hold true for body shapes, but at least for faces, the statement is true.

corgi800
corgi800

@AndreaJoyMiller-Acker @Karen21242 I must say that I do agree with one point you've made; a little girl who plays with barbies, and loves them the way I used to love mine, DOES want to be like them one day. But I think they might be wanting to be like them in a little bit of a different way.


If a child, or any human being, for that matter, has been raised correctly, they probably aren't going to CARE what a person looks like. If a parent is truly this concerned about the shape of a plastic doll their child plays with, I personally think that shows how concerned said person is with appearances, and with how society perceives them. I, for one, wanted to be like my Barbies because my Barbies did whatever I wanted them to; they sung and danced, they were all best friends, they had adventures as mermaids and fairies and ninjas. Real jobs? Pshaw. They were too busy fighting crime as masked vigilantes and holding fashion shows. That was what I wanted to do; I wanted to be awesome, like my imagination said I could be.


What child cares (or, in all honesty, even really notices) if their doll has realistic proportions or not? What kind of a child are you raising if s/he looks at a doll and thinks, "this is beautiful, and because I don't look like her, I CAN'T be beautiful. There is only one way to be pretty and this is it"? Moreover, what kind of parent tells their child, "You cannot have this particular outlet for your imagination, because it is not pretty. Or at least, it is pretty in the wrong way"? I am by no means saying that a Barbie looks "healthy"; you're right, blown up to proportion, it DOESN'T (actually, she looks downright TERRIFYING, which is plain for anybody to see whether they think Barbies themselves are pretty or not; http://bodyblisscentral.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/galia-slayen-barbie.jpg ). But it looks passably realistic as a small doll, until you sit there and compare it to a person. And not allowing your child to play with them simply because of how they look, is just as judgmental and negative as what you are trying to prevent. If you don't want your daughter to be obsessed with being skinny, teach them moral values. Don't tell them that a certain toy is "wrong" and playing with them is "wrong" and that they should never, ever be like them or they'll be "wrong" too. That's setting them up to judge others unfairly. What about the people in the world that are skinny simply because that's how they are born? No dieting, no anorexia; are they "wrong" because of the way they look? More importantly, is that what we want children to believe?


The difference between a child that is affected by the way a Barbie looks in a negative way and a child that isn't, is proper parenting. As long as a parent teaches their child to be accepting, they'll have no trouble accepting their own body, and that it doesn't look like a Barbie. And as long as a parent teaches their child that looks are shallow, and beauty comes from your actions and your words, they won't have to spare a thought accepting they don't look like a Barbie in the first place. If you teach a child not to focus on looks and other shallow things, their first thought won't be "ooooo, mama, she looks so pretty"; it'll be "she looks like fun! I'll bet we can have all sorts of adventures together!"


Now, I am in no way trying to bash on your parenting style; if you think they're inappropriate for your children, you shouldn't let them play with them. You're their mother and I'm not, and it's not in any way, shape or form my place to say if you're parenting them "correctly" or not. Your kids might not even be INTERESTED in Barbies, and they might not even care if they get to play with them or not. I'm just trying to point out the fact that, in my own opinion, a good parent will make it CLEAR to their children early on that it doesn't matter what a person looks like; it's how they act that counts. And so it doesn't matter if you play with Barbies, or if you even think they look beautiful; you look beautiful too, as long as you ACT beautiful to go along with it. Otherwise that beauty is spoiled, and no matter what your shape, age, gender, or color, you're an ugly person, end of story.

munchkin
munchkin

@AndreaJoyMiller-Acker @Karen21242   a little FYI. BARBIE WAS NOT MADE FOR LITTLE CHILDREN!! ;) When Barbie was made, she was made for ADULTS!! Children back then had little child dolls NOT big breasted adult dolls... Barbie over the years has gone to LITTLE children and we as ADULTS need to see from their point of views NOT OUR OWN!! Barbie's figure as is, is EASY for LITTLE GIRLS to hold while they are dressing/undressing the doll. 


if your child is OBSESSED on looking that way then YOU  as a PARENT NEED to EXPLAIN that BARBIE IS NOT A REAL GIRL!!! She is  a DOLL that you PLAY with. NOT criticize! <3 I myself had a Barbie when I was young and NEVER DID I  SAY "GEE WIZ I WISH TO BE JUST LIKE BARBIE!!!" NEVER!!!


People need to STEP BACK a couple of DECADES and see how SIMPLE AND HAPPY LIFE can be WITHOUT GARBAGE NONSENSE!! I have children now and my daughter DOES NOT THINK LIKE THAT EITHER!! Why? BECAUSE SHE KNOWS THAT IT'S A FLIPPN DOLL!!! 


I think buddy here did an excellent job in making an average barbie, it helps those children that have been BRAIN WASHED to think that they NEED  to be thin and beautiful. YOU ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL THE WAY YOU ARE!!! <3 

Karen21242
Karen21242

@DeweySayenoff  Well thank you for pointing out exactly what's wrong with this article! "It's a doll." Neither Ken nor Barbie are supposed to look perfect! They are DOLLS!