Barbie, Meet ‘Average Barbie’

Artist Nickolay Lamm has given Barbie a radical makeover

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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.

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“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:


BEHANCE.NET 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:

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



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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