Is average beautiful? Artist Nickolay Lamm raises the question of how society defines beauty with his creation, the Lammily Doll, which has gone viral. Lammily is different from the other dolls because of her realistic proportions, based on the proportions that an average girl has. I was so excited that the Lammily doll would be a great fit for my writing that I asked Nickolay for the chance to review his doll a year ahead of time. Now that the doll is finally in production and is sold on the company’s website just in time for holiday shoppers, I received the doll to try out and review.
Lammily Doll Review
As a woman who is 5’8, I do actually relate better to the height of the standard Barbie, and I predict that both of my daughters will in their future too. Is average relatable for everyone? I’m not so sure. I noticed that I would relate to the doll’s shoe sizing, but not her waist size because I’ve had trouble putting weight on after having my second baby. While Lammily had an average waist, her jean t-shirt wasn’t the most form fitting, so it wasn’t as appealing and fashionable on her as some of the other outfits might be. I would have liked to have seen her in her New York outfit to better analyze her look.
Something that the doll makes me think about is the fact that there really is no average ideal because anything that is different from what a girl looks like will make her second guess her own look. For some girls who struggle with people telling them they are too thin, the doll might make them question their body type too. For other girls, the doll’s soft, shiny and smooth brown hair would be unrelatable because curly hair can be so difficult for some girls to maintain. Another feature is the doll’s perfectly nice looking face. Notice the doll’s large eyes, shaped eyebrows, small nose, and full lips.
Would it be better to make an uglier doll? No, but making a doll with average weight proportions probably doesn’t solve any major social issues either. In fact, I’m not a huge fan of the idea of acne and cellulite stickers. Gross. We all know that smooth skin is more appealing.
Even though there are many reasons that Lammily doesn’t actually solve body image issues on a large scale, the doll does provide us with a new way to discuss body image with our daughters. One of the videos released about the doll this year showed children discussing the difference between Lammily and Barbie. At the end of the video, all of the kids said they would rather have Lammily because they already had a Barbie doll. With my daughter, I decided to ask similar questions to see what she noticed about her new doll. My daughter said that she loved Lammily’s brown hair and brown eyes, while she also liked the feet that made the doll stand up without heels.
My daughter also liked the doll’s ability to move her arms, legs, and feet. Natural movement brought the doll to life. When I moved the doll’s wrist and ankles, I did notice that I needed to be fragile, and I was nervous that if my baby played with the doll without my supervision, the doll’s hands or ankles could be the first place to break under rough care. Lammily also had some highlights in her hair that gave her hair color a natural sun kissed look. The hair quality was really nice.
Because Lammily’s proportions were different, she couldn’t use Barbie’s dresses. Lammily could fit in Barbie’s car. She could also also share Barbie’s necklaces and purses. Giving Barbie a natural looking friend was a great idea. Samantha completely enjoyed the experience.
We also explored the Lammily website, which had an entire line of fashion clothing, as well as a feature where you could custom produce a passport for your doll. As a history major who earned an M.Ed in elementary education, I liked the idea of the doll being a cultured, world traveler. Growing up, I always preferred dolls that had a story to dolls who only had dress up clothes. Lammily has clothing options for traveling to Denmark, Scotland, Rio, London, Paris, New York and Barcelona. I thought the doll’s travels were neat because I spent my childhood traveling too.
Even though Lammily has average body proportions, she appears to have an above average family income. According to CNN, the average household income was $53,891 in June 2014. Most children would not be able to afford the extravagant vacations that the doll takes. As I’ve worked in Title I schools, I wonder whether some children would feel bad, imagining that their doll has so much money. There are a lot of kids who will never fly on an airplane or even leave their own home town.
Is Lammily perfect? Well, no, but I think that’s the point. None of us are perfect either. All of the hype about the doll makes it easier to be critical about her, but Lamm is doing a great job of raising awareness about the body image ideals that we present to our kids. In the future, I plan to continue having my daughter play with and talk about the doll.