The Anti-Barbie

Realistic Barbie

James Hamblin highlights a doll designed with the body measurements of a typical 19-year-old American woman:

Lammily is the forthcoming plastic doll whose motto is, “Average is beautiful.” Her body shape is based on averages of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that is more often used to track the American obesity epidemic. She is not affiliated with Mattel’s Barbie.

Virginia Postrel sees problems:

Before embracing the reassuring claim that “average is beautiful,” consider the CDC statistics behind Lammily’s physique.

Based on a representative sample of 118 people, the agency reports that the average 19-year-old female American stands 5 feet 4 inches tall. She has a 33.6-inch waist and a 14.1-inch upper arm. She weighs 150 pounds, giving her a body mass index of 25.5. That indicates that she is overweight. BMI is, however, a crude and controversial measure. Better are the CDC’s direct body-fat measurements. They confirm the same bad news: The average 19-year-old’s body is about 32 percent fat, just at the threshold for obesity.

If Lammily were true to life, in other words, she’d have rolls of fat, not a firm plastic tummy. Her figure would turn off both beauty-minded girls and health-conscious parents.

Adrian Lee adds:

It doesn’t help, either, that there is only one race (in an increasingly diverse U.S., it’s tough to say instinctively that Caucasian remains the average), which is a bit intentional: Lamm has said that he wants the figure to have that “J. Crew look,” which is more than a little bit WASPy.

Amanda Hess doubts Lammily will solve anything:

The problem with Barbie is not that she’s the only doll on the block. If parents want their girls playing with dolls proportioned like normal humans, they already have the choice to buy Only Hearts Club dolls or Journey Girls. Enough parents buy these dolls that they continue to exist. Some of them are even sold in major toy stores. But way, way, way more parents buy Barbies, and her stranglehold over the doll market is the reason she gets so much flak. …

Barbie’s impossible frame will remain the impossible standard. And as long as it is, daughters of feminist mommies and daddies who hit daycare with a doll who looks exactly like all the other girls’ Barbiesonly shorter and fatter—may not end up learning the lesson of beauty-at-any-size that the doll was created to deliver.