Remember The Lammily Doll, Aka “Normal Barbie”? Now The Ken Doll Version Has Arrived

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This is why we love the body positive movement – because it is not just about allowing one group of people to feel empowered, instead it has become a force of good for every body. It is still growing but with the amount of stories we have covered just on our site, we have confidence that it can effectively overturn the decades of damage done by an industry that has thrived on making consumers feel unworthy unless they buy a product (or the myth that they aren’t good enough the way they are).

In 2013 artist Nickolay Lamm released images of what Barbie would look like if her body proportions were more realistic to what we see in the real world. In 2014, after a ridiculously successful crowdfunding campaign, he released his own set of dolls called Lammily, which instead of focusing on assets such as perky breasts and heavily made-up faces, he included things such as cellulite, acne, and scars to go along with a doll which boasted realistic body proportions.

The idea was to challenge the existing norms and allow children to play with a toy that didn’t subconsciously start the damaging work of what media would eventually do as they grew older. The response has been so great (over 13,000 people preordered more than 20,000 dolls) that he didn’t want to stop at just a female doll.

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Once again Nickolay is raising money via crowdfunding to release a line of “normal Ken” dolls. On his campaign page, he explained that the Ken proportions are based on the average body of a 19 year old male from the United States, and the anthropometric data came from Dr. Reed from the University of Michigan.

“I feel men also feel pressure in the form of not being tall, not having enough hair, not having enough muscle, etc. I think those are things which few talk about because, as a guy, you’re kind of expected not to worry too much about your appearance and because women face beauty standards on another level,” Nickolay told the Huffington Post.

Aside from the obvious body image messages he intends to promote to young boys, he also wants the Lammily “Ken” (whose name is not Ken, and each owner gets to decide his name for themselves) to be a vehicle which allows boys to distance themselves from other harmful male stereotypes that teach them not to express themselves in an emotional way, or to not associate with things that are stereotypically “female”.

“I think realistic representations of men can positively influence kids’ body image and show boys it’s cool to show your emotions,” explained Nickolay.

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There are numerous studies into the impact of body image messages on men, all of which share some common trends. Many men report high levels of dissatisfaction with their bodies, they feel pressure to diet and add muscle, and some even resort to cosmetic procedures to fix what they think is wrong. Sadly there are  high levels of eating disorders found among men, which is not commonly known. The National Eating Disorders Association reports there are 1o million men in the United States who will suffer from some form of eating disorder in their lifetime, but due to the misconception that it is mostly a “woman’s issue” it is not something men are encouraged to talk about as openly as women.

Nickolay says he was one of those guys who was influenced by media messages growing up and never felt like his body was “good enough”, which is why he wants to change that for other young boys and men.

“I often internalized these pressures and they became core to my identity. Who I was, was directly linked to what I looked like. And how much time I spent worrying about my looks is time I’ll never get back,” he said.

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It was after he read a book called ‘Shattered Image’ by Brian Cuban that enabled him to see the problem as more widespread than he realized. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the female Lammily doll, it was only natural to make the male version.

“I’ve seen boys play with [girl] Lammily dolls because they like how ‘real’ the doll looks. It’s almost as if it stops being a doll and it becomes a tiny person. Kids are very observant about the small details, the toes, the fingers, the belly button. I hope that, playing with realistically proportioned dolls, kids may have a better chance to grow up with realistic expectations about their own appearances,” he said.

We love this! It’s an issue and area even we are learning about, and we realize how important it is to promote healthy realistic body messages for all people, not just women. To find out more about the Lammily collections visit the website. Watch Nickolay talk about his passion for redefining body image standards in the video below:


 

 

 

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