What if the Barbie dolls many of us are accustomed to looked a little bit more like us? What if we saw our body types, our hair and our skin types represented in the toys we grew up with? What kind of impact could it have on body issues if the dolls we're surrounded by as children looked more realistic?
Nickolay Lamm is trying to create such an impact. Lammily is a new company founded by designer Nickolay Lamm, who has been working alongside his mother to create dolls that have been nicknamed "normal Barbie" due to their realistic proportions. Lamm based his dolls measurements off the proportions of the average 19-year-old woman.
Lamm's idea came from working on several different body image projects. He says he wanted to show that "average is beautiful," and originally created a 3D mockup of a doll made with realistic proportions. The image of his prototype standing next to the common Barbie doll quickly went viral. Soon Lamm was planning to make the realistic fashion dolls to sell.
A recent addition to the Lammily doll is the option to accessorize with menstrual pads, called "Period Party." In an effort to normalize menstruation and reduce the shaming of this healthy, normal bodily function, Lamm and his mother created decorative pads that attach to normal Barbie's underwear.
Lamm explains, "I heard that some parents think that something like this should only be between parents and their kids, and that a doll shouldn't replace that. All this is is a tool for parents, rather than replacing that conversation in any way, it's just a fun tool to assist in that conversation."
In a culture that frequently shames body types that veer from the standard, and treats menstruation as a taboo, gross part of life, Lamm's dolls are revolutionary. In some cultures, menstruation is quietly swept under the rug, rather than celebrated as a normal, healthy part of life. Many of us likely remember being terrified of accidentally leaking blood on our clothes, feeling mortified to begin menstruation, or even talk about it, and being pressured to hide our pads and tampons, because they're seen as inherently embarrassing.
But in other cultures around the world, women face serious discrimination for menstruating, some of which can impact their access to education and even their safety. Many girls are not allowed to attend school during menstruation, and are forced to live in solitude in animal sheds. Women and girls who do not have access to pads, tampons, or menstrual cups are often forced to use dirty rags and leaves to prevent leaks. This can lead to life-threatening infections, while living in solitude increases the risk of rape as well as animal attacks.
It's clear we have a long way to go to support these gender-specific issues, and the Lammily dolls are one small step in helping to normalize menstruation.
Check out the video below, created by Lamm to promote the use of the Period Party dolls in explaining menstruation to young girls:
What do you think, mamas? Would you use a doll like this to help normalize menstruation for your children?
Image courtesy of Lammily