Artist Nickolay Lamm isn’t afraid to dream big, as he attempts to crowd fund the $95,000 he needs to attempt the overthrow of Barbie by average looking dolls of realistic proportions for little girls raised in a selfie-driven, glitz pageant, pop princess culture.
As if that’s not challenging enough, he also hopes pop star Demi Lovato, and other like-minded celebrities who are body image reformists, will read about his “Average is Beautiful” doll campaign and become fans of the dolls.
The doll is known as “Lammily” and her slogan is “Average is beautiful.”
Reading the simple, unadorned slogan, I chuckled as I imagined the expressions on the faces of the likes of Donald Trump, who would fire an apprentice for being so “average” and the marketing teams of America, when they read it.
However, upsetting marketing norms is the entire point of the dolls, so the marketing fits.
I was interested in what motivated him, so I emailed Mr. Lamm for some insight into his business plan, hopes and dreams for his little “Lammily” family of dolls.
“Right now, there is no doll on the market which is affordable and which is made according to realistic body proportions,” Lamm wrote in an email. “Many people are criticizing Barbie and there is no alternative. I decided to make one, and Lammily is a result of those efforts.”
Lammily doll bodies are based on measurements Lamm took from the CDC’s website, and are based on the average 19-year-old young woman, according to a video made by Lamm on his new crowd funding site, which launched today.
Lamm first made headlines in May 2013, by helping Barbie and other dolls take it all off – their makeup that is – in a series of photoshopped images he and a friend generated in order to show that the dolls looked lovely without the war paint.
However, when Mattel, the makers of Barbie didn’t hop on board and let the dolls face the world without their makeup, Lamm decided to take matters into his own hands, and create a line of realistically proportioned dolls with minimal makeup.
While his first wish is to make his funding goal, his second wish is to get stars like Ms. Lovato, who has shared publicly her ongoing battle with body image issues, and others like her to rally around his dolls.
“If, in the future, someone like Demi wants a doll made after her and allows me to use her resemblance and name, that would obviously be a great edition to the Lammily lineup,” he wrote in an email last night.
For now he’s got the support of his two female cousins, ages eight and ten (names withheld), who Lamm says love the images of Lammily.
“My cousins like the Lammily designs I showed them,” Lamm wrote in an email. “The general consensus was that the doll looks more like them and that she looks friendly and inviting.”
Right now, Lammily exists only in digital form with only one 3D modeled prototype. So children have not yet had a chance to play with the physical doll, but the crowd funding effort will hopefully fund production for lot more dolls to take to market.
While I am dying to see this doll succeed, I have a worried feeling in my mommy circuits telling me that as long as there are Barbies, the maker of an “average girl” doll could face some peer sneers.
I'm worried Lamm might be tempted to go down the girlie-whirlie aisle when building prototype accessories for the Lammily line.
That’s why I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of parents everywhere, to make a couple of suggestions for accessories.
While it’s great that Lammily’s sporty and healthy, as the prototype pictures attest, parents want well-rounded doll in more than just form and that means: a chess set, musical instrument (a cello might be nice), a lab coat, math text books for the night stand, a T-square, and a fez inspired by the “Dr. Who” series. Fezzes are cool.
I realize that some people might think I’m putting the cart before the horse by talking about accessories for a doll that’s still just a dream, but some dreams are so huge that you need to get way out in front of them just to get an idea of what they really look like.
This idea is immense because it’s about changing the way our culture values women and girls. It’s a trickle-down dream that affects how girls and woman in turn value themselves.
It made me wonder how far we must walk away from this particular notion before we can turn around and see it in focus.
I wonder how many more girls like Lovato must torture their bodies trying to achieve an impossible look.
How many girls will take even more extreme routes to mold themselves, like Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova, a.k.a. “Human Barbie,” who announced her intent to live on nothing but air and sunlight to achieve a “perfect shape?”
Some might say I have little investment in this topic as the mom of four sons.
However, I don’t want them to grow up to marry a gorgeous air fern like Lukyanova and give me little grand-bushes to love.
What I think many parents want is options for their kids. Lamm is proposing to create an option, and for my money that’s a good thing.
Editor's Note: Nicolay Lamm exceeded his goal of raising $95,000 in less than 24 hours, raising $138,922 through his crowdfunding website www.lammily.com.