Crowdsourcing a Healthy Body Image

It’s no secret that one of America’s most beloved toys – Mattel’s Barbie® – doesn’t have measurements that are all that (insert your word here) normal, healthy, possible for living.

This Huffington Post article compares Barbie to the average American woman – and against measurements of female models, as well as anorexic women – and finds that Barbie wouldn’t even be able to walk up-right, due to the nature of her tiny feet and ankles.

One of the biggest complaints against the unrealistic proportions of Barbie is that it negatively influences young girls’ body images. Another problem is more than just Barbie’s looks – she hasn’t always been the best role model of what little girls can aspire to, unless it involves fashion or her long-time boyfriend, Ken. That has been rectified over the years, by giving Barbie different jobs, such as a politician, doctor and computer engineer.

I played with many Barbie dolls when I was a child. I don’t recall Barbie giving me bad self-esteem or telling me I couldn’t be whatever I wanted to be. As I remember, peer pressure, entertainment and the media were where I drew my negative body connotations. Little Barbie didn’t have much to do with it for me, anyway.

But, it would be nice to see young girls have a depiction of what reality looks like. And despite the negative criticism of Barbie’s looks and lack of depth, the doll continues to be one of the best-selling toys on the market. It doesn’t look like she’s going anywhere soon.

Unless Nickolay Lamm has anything to say about it. The artist and researcher has gotten a lot of buzz over the last few days about his proposed average teenage doll, Lammily. With “Average Is Beautiful” as his tagline, it’s no surprise that crowd-sourcing has already funded over $113,000 to begin production of the doll.

Using average human body proportions, the Lammily doll is fit and ready for an active lifestyle, with bendable knees, elbows, wrists and ankles. Her clothing and make-up are simplistic.

So far, only Caucasian dolls are pictured in the artist’s renderings. If the “Average Is Beautiful” tagline will be truly accurate, that will need to be expanded to include a variety of races and ethnicities. Lamm’s site does say that he plans to extend the line and embrace diversity, including race and body type.

As Lamm’s Crowdtilt-powered site has already garnered over $100,000 (and counting), it seems that people are ready to see an alternative to Barbie.

The one criticism I have about this doll is the name. But, I guess that’s a small thing, compared to the many positive things that could come from this.

West Virginia Lawmaker to World: I Have Too Much Time on My Hands

The age old debate between conservatives, liberals, and libertarians often centers around this question: What is government’s role in society? While we all have our leanings, nuances, and even uncompromising tenets, one legislator in West Virginia has taken the debate out of the stratosphere. In a stunning affront to commerce, liberty, and good sense, he wants an all-out ban on … take a guess … guns, cigarettes, gambling? Nope, try Barbie.

Barbie could get an unwelcome present for her 50th birthday: outlawed in West Virginia.

A state lawmaker proposed a bill Tuesday to ban sales of the iconic Mattel doll and others like her.

The proposal from Democratic Delegate Jeff Eldridge said such toys influence girls to place too much importance on physical beauty, at the expense of their intellectual and emotional development.

"Basically, I introduced legislation because the Barbie doll, I think, gives emphasis on if you’re beautiful, you don’t have to be smart," Eldridge said.

A Mattel spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The Barbie doll officially turns 50 on March 9, and the toy maker has made big plans this year to mark the anniversary.

Barbie has had her foes over that half-century. Critics said the doll promotes materialism and an unnatural body image.

First up to testify in opposition: Ken.