The biggest shopping season of the year starts in one week. Children are finalizing their wish lists, and parents are researching products, prices and the lot. While millions of little girls and boys will surely get their hands on some dolls this holiday season, some might be unwrapping a truly new doll: Lammily, or what the media is referring to as “Normal Barbie.” The doll becomes available to purchase on November 28, and clever marketing already has holiday shoppers eyeing this product, but are they just falling for sales propaganda?
I’m not knocking Lammily the normal Barbie, but I am questioning what exactly is normal?
Calling a doll normal doesn’t liberate women from an unreachable aspiration; it simply traps them in another box — not what most parents want for their children.
The media liberally dub the doll as normal, but the Lammily company practices a bit more responsibility calling the doll “average.” Even so, while Nickolay Lamm, (and naming a doll after your surname is considered only slightly narcissistic by Millennial standards), created the doll with the best of intentions, Lammily isn’t going to be able to offer children a sense of what a normal woman is supposed to look like, no matter what parents think because, well, that’s impossible.
Here’s the deal, labeling anything normal gets any person or brand into dangerous territory. Not only does the concept of “normal” constantly change, but labeling one girl as normal means that any girl dissimilar to her is not normal. We live in a culture that’s constancy tipping scales rather than balancing them (take the whole fit shaming trend that’s been making its way across the Internet since 2013 or BuzzFeed articles such as “Why Brunettes are the Absolute Greatest”). Lammily wears minimal makeup, so does that mean women who wear makeup everyday aren’t normal? Should we shame them?
At least Barbies are (or attempt to be) multicultural–Barbies come in different races and have eye colors and hair colors. Lammily currently only comes in white brunette models based on CDC averages, but the brand hopes to expand the selections in 2015. In its FAQ section of its website, Lammily dolls states, “we’re hoping to extend the line to embrace diversity. From race to body type, we want this doll to be true to you!” (This blogger, advertiser and blonde is hoping that this also means hair color–blonde children still exists, don’t you know).
Ultimately, exposing the youth of America to realistic, average and healthy body images is a good thing; however, America is a melting pot, we’re witnessing new normals every day, and what’s normal for some isn’t normal for another. About one-third of the American population is a minority, and by 2050, minorities will make up a majority of the American population. Presenting children with good and healthy role models (even in toy doll form) is important, but no matter what, no one or brand can never cookie-cut a person. Lammily is a great toy and an ingenious product (with her mobility, she honestly seems like she’s way more fun to play with than a Barbie), but the words normal and realistic aren’t something that should be applied to any toy.
And just for the sake of argument, if you ask me, Barbie wasn’t necessarily ever supposed to be completely realistic. Sometimes she’s just a fun toy doll for children to dress up and play with (or collectors to keep in boxes for whatever reason).
At any rate, this new average doll will surely mix things up, and the crowdfunded Lammily product joins the market as a real competitor. Some are even asking is this the end of Mattel? Will this force a change in the industry?
If so, at least Barbie will always have that Aqua song to fall back on (even if Mattel once tried to sue Aqua’s label over the track, they eventually licensed it and used it in Barbie Doll ads). For the sake of Throwback Thursday, check out this so totally ’90s classic:
What are your thoughts on Lammily and Barbie? Tell us in the comments!
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://ourspace.thesanjosegroup.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/02/Cassandra-Bremer-Our-Space-Photo-e1402061863316.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.[/author_info] [/author]