For years, Barbie has been criticized for setting unrealistic body-image expectations for young girls. But it wasn’t until artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm came along that someone offered an actual alternative to the age-old doll. When Lamm heard the criticism, he had an idea to use the CDC’s measurements for the average 19-year-old American woman to create Real Barbie, which was released on July 4, 2013. The response from that project is what made Lamm decide to carry out his vision and actually create these dolls, but he needs help raising funds.
We caught up with Lamm to talk about his inspiration, and where Lammily goes from here:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Lammily came about from Real Barbie?
NICKOLAY LAMM: Lammily was actually made off the same body as Real Barbie, so it all started with the Real Barbie project, and with Real Barbie I tried to show that if they’re a real woman with average proportions who look good, why can’t we just make a doll out of it? It’s a very simple idea. I wanted to show that average is beautiful with Real Barbie. Barbie’s been criticized a lot; I just wanted to offer an alternative, because yeah, there’s a lot of criticism, but nobody ever tried to make an alternative to Barbie.
So where did the original idea for Real Barbie come from? The criticism?
To be honest, I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but it was kind of a combination. I was aware that there was criticism of Barbie, and I was also aware that not just women, but I and other men also feel there are standards that we have to live up to which are unrealistic, and I thought, if we can sometimes feel this way, imagine what it’s like for women. And so I did Real Barbie for women, because I can get a sense of what they’re going through, and I tried to show them you don’t have to have a super amazing body to be beautiful.
Where did the Lammily name come from?
Well my last name is Lamm, so Lammily kind of makes no sense, but that’s kind of the point. We originally had an idea to call it like “True to Me” or something, but then we felt like we were trying too hard. Let the doll do the talking. So Lammily, we felt it was memorable and a lot of my family helped on this project, so it’s kind of like a tribute to them too, the Lammily family.
Was there a certain inspiration for this first doll’s hair and eye color?
I just wanted her to look like someone who’s sweet-looking to kids but someone who’s sophisticated to parents as well. There wasn’t really any specific person I modeled it after, but the first attempt at the face was an absolute disaster, so it’s almost comical to compare what it used to be like.
What was the first attempt like?
I’m not against old people or anything but she literally looked like a 60-year-old, very sad looking grandma. [Laughs]
What is your timeline for this project?
The goal is to have Lammily to the backers by November.
Do you have any other projects you’re working on right now?
One of my projects right now, if you were in New York City, where would you go if there’s a zombie apocalypse? So I’m making a heat map for all the major cities. But now with Lammily, that’s going to be taken back a bit, assuming it’s successful because it’s going to take a lot of time to make this happen.
In your ideal world, where do you go from here if this is successful?
I see the future of Lammily so that it has different races, different body types, body types which are healthy too. I just want to create an alternative which has never existed before and keep it around for many years, because the fashion doll market’s very competitive and I can only do that with the support of the crowdfunding and people who want to see it succeed.
Check out another photo of the doll below, which illustrates her articulated wrists, knees, elbows, and feet: