THE BLOG
12/08/2014 02:06 pm ET Updated Feb 07, 2015

The "Normal Barbie:" Setting the Ideal Female Body Image Right

The persistent conflict between women and society's concept of the "ideal" body image continues to dictate the way females perceive themselves.

Across the media, models, actresses and even vocalists are continuously epitomized as the idyllic women that all "normal" women should aspire to look like.

According to DoSomething.org, "approximately 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5 percent of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media."

So why should the 91 percent feel bad about their bodies because of the portrayal of the 5 percent as "ideal"?

This is exactly what the creators of the Lammily doll, otherwise known as the "normal Barbie," wanted to correct.

Nickolay Lamm, artist and researcher responsible for the design of the "normal Barbie," used CDC measurements for women (5.25 feet tall, 166 pounds) to create a realistic Barbie, and his results were astounding. It turns out, a normal woman is very far from the unrealistic proportions little girls come to understand as "normal" through their Barbie doll.

According to Lamm, "If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well."

After this experiment, Lamm went on to actually produce and manufacture a realistically proportioned Barbie doll, but he didn't stop at basic measurements.

According to a recent Huffington Post article:

"Fifty to 90 percent of women will develop stretch marks in their lifetime, and over 90 percent of women have cellulite on their bodies. Acne is also incredibly common, with an estimated 80 percent of people experiencing an outbreak between the ages of 11 and 30."

With "imperfections" as these so prominent in society, it would be wrong to create a "normal Barbie" without even one.

In a comment to the Huffington Post, Lamm said:

"I feel that, right now, dolls are very 'perfect' looking, when, in real life, few of us have perfect skin. So why not give dolls a 'real treatment?' Things like acne, stretch marks and cellulite are a natural part of who we are."

So while the Lammily doll has the same proportional body size, these "imperfections" come as an additional accessory to the doll. There is an additional sticker kit available for pre-order on the Lammily site which girls can use to create their own doll. Stickers include glasses, blush marks, bandages, moles, tattoos, scars, casts and even grass stains, just to name a few.

This kit is an additional $6, and the hope is that children will be subjected to these so-called "flaws" early on, and realize that they are in fact nothing to be ashamed of, but are instead "normal."

While the counterargument is that Barbies aren't meant to be "realistic" but are in fact this idealized version of a female, this Lammily doll may just help to stop promoting unhealthy body images women are constantly seeking to obtain.

In an article in "The Myriad" (The Westminster Undergraduate Academic Journal), research found that people make comparisons between themselves and others continuously.

According to the article, women are drawn to social media, which inevitably leads to upward comparisons, which occur "when an individual compares himself or herself to someone who fares better than they do on a particular construct."

The article also states these upward comparisons are more likely to lead to depressive moods.

This excerpt from the article perfectly shares the body image ideals Lamm is trying to fight against:

Television, advertisements, magazines and other forms of popular media provide a plethora of references for upward social comparison. Images in the media generally project a standard to which women are expected to aspire, yet that standard is almost completely impossible for most women to achieve. Women almost always fall short of standards that are expected of them regarding physical appearance. Particularly for women, it is difficult to go through a day without viewing images that send the message, 'you're not good enough.'

So can it really hurt to remove the image of the "perfect" Barbie from this media?

Feminist lecturers, researchers and writers can preach all they want to about the negativity associated with the female body image, but with a tangible change finally emerging, and appealing to a younger audience for that matter, it's important to give it as much media attention as possible.

According to the Huffington Post article, Lamm's "goal was to create a fun, appealing doll with natural-looking makeup and a casual, sporty wardrobe."

So the doll has not only a positive overall message, but also no problem appealing to children, as it takes on all the qualities a normal Barbie doll would.

The Lammily doll is currently available for purchase on the Lammily site at $25, and, much like Barbie herself, she has an abundance of outfits girls can choose from.

All clothes and add-ons for the Lammily doll are currently only available for pre-order, but shipping will begin January 18 of next year.

For every female out there that has had a hard time dealing with the body images the limelight portrays as "ideal," here is your silver lining: a realistic body image has finally been displayed in media, and maybe now women can finally be comfortable in their own skin knowing the average woman finally has a voice.

By: Victoria Robertson, University of Illinois