David & Goliath: Average Lammily takes on Barbie dolls

I grew up with an elder sister. Like all young siblings we had our share of fights, make-belief hugs, chocolate sharing, screaming-hair pulling-nail scratching matches. What made me, as the younger one always trying to be cool like my sister, even grumpier was the fact that things my sister owned were always clean, kept properly and easy to find. While my toys dolls and would be broken, with some dolls having been operated upon, or thrown from a table while I taught them how to swim, or missing chunks of golden hair while I scrubbed them clean. Barbie dolls were the things our mother would shush us up with if guests came home, or if we had to be dragged somewhere with no kids – or kids we didn’t like talking to. My last Barbie was something I bought myself – out of money I had saved from what visiting aunts had given me while commenting on how I have grown and how soon I wouldn’t want dolls or toys. I would brush aside these comments thinking there cannot be any age where I wouldn’t want to play with my dolls. When my neighbour had a child, I made sure that I played with her dolls as well – even as my own dolls were slowly being kept as things from my childhood in the glass shelves above my writing desk.

That is what Barbie Dolls were to me. I never thought they would be real. I especially did not like the fact that they made an Indian Barbie and made her dress like a bride. I did not like half of the occupations Barbie was given in the new boxes – Baking, Painting, Journalist, so on and so forth. What never crossed my mind was the vital statistics and how it would impact young minds.

But that is exactly what has been discussed and debated in recent years. With people protesting about how that figure is unattainable, that Barbie prescribes an unhealthy lifestyle etc. It was only when I saw a girl who had several surgeries to make herself look like Barbie, I realised how it can actually have a totally weird, un-explainable effect on people. I started to agree with most critics and felt that anything which puts an impression on young minds should be built responsibly.

Then I came across Nickolay Lamm’s page. Lamm is an artist and designer who has designed an average doll – with average proportions and stats. When his design for Lammily (the new doll) came out, it made quite an uproar with more and more people saying good things about it. I wrote him an email and we spoke about how and why he did it.

“My cousin is 19 years old, in great shape, yet still feels the need to not eat too much because she’s in fear of gaining weight. I want to show that you are beautiful just the way you are with Lammily,” he said.

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Lamm has now decided to produce the dolls in real life – and not just as a studio object. But since the cost is high, he has launched a crowdfunding project and is asking people to help. It has gone viral with news about the project being covered by The Washington Post, Independent, HuffingtonPost, Time, Fox News, CBS News – to name a few. Lammily is now at $403,807 with some 20 odd days to go.

Lamm says that he had no idea what to expect from the crowdfunding. ” I set low expectations for how well the crowdfunding would go because I didn’t want to disappoint myself. My family insisted that it would ‘go big.’ I’m happy it did, but I certainly was not expecting it to have as much success as it did.”

The Lammily dolls also promote a healthier lifestyle. There is one where Lammily is seen in running clothes. Another shows her playing soccer. She is mostly dressed in shorts and a tee – much like the average 19 year old is likely to do. High heels and cocktail dresses doesn’t seem to be ruling her wardrobe though there is always the swimsuit and party dress options available.

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Lamm says he never expected Mattel (the producers of Barbie) to contact him or change the way they make their dolls. They have a stable business model and what they have done with their doll is amazing. However, Lamm added that “I don’t care what other companies do, to be honest because how many companies do we need creating dolls which promote healthy lifestyle? Lammily is the first one.”

It is nice to see someone doing something like this. Whether it will catch on or not remains to be seen, of course. But like Lamm says,”You are beautiful the way you are and you don’t have to look at the unrealistic beauty expectations that you see around you every day.”

I rest my case. Let me eat a cupcake now. You can visit the page till then at https://www.lammily.com/

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