Editorial: Anti-Barbie doll furthers gendered cultural norms of society

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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Mattel Inc.’s lucrative Barbie doll creation has a new competitor — what has been called the anti-Barbie, invented by Pitt graduate Nickolay Lamm.

Lammily,” as Lamm brands it, is intended to adequately portray a healthier version of dolls, combating the unrealistic representations exemplified by Barbie dolls. The doll portrays an average 19-year-old woman, formulated from demographic research of what the prototypical teenager looks like.

Lamm wants to promote “realistic beauty standards” using “standard human body proportions.”

The concept, which at first glance seems to be a better option that reverses the notion that Barbie dolls inflict an unreasonable representation of what women should look like, only furthers the gendered and culturally disgusting norms that these products enforce and enhance.

Lammily, as described on its website, is fit and strong, has articulated wrists, knees, elbows and feet, wears minimal makeup and is dressed with striking simplicity.

But who’s to say what the average 19-year-old looks like? Lammily doesn’t combat the inaccuracies Barbie portrays, but only adds to the image to which women are supposed to conform.

For one, these products and the way they are advertised are simply marketing ploys that push along particular representations and expectations of each gender, in this case that of women. These ploys are lucrative with millions consuming the products, giving little incentive for advertisers to change their strategies.

Don’t fix it if it’s not broken, right? Wrong. Advertising what women are supposed to look like is the cause behind why some women think they aren’t socially and culturally acceptable; they don’t fit the unattainable mold that’s plastered on every female-specific advertisement.

Responsibility must be placed on consumers, and parents especially, who buy the products. Whether aware of it or not, they are implicitly consenting to these very notions by buying products for their children. They put across a notion that these products and what they represent are permissible, deeming it acceptable for their children to use them. What parents should be doing is realizing that these gendered norms are wrong, and taking steps to make their children understand such criticisms.

The fault falls on both the evident complacency of parents and the apparent stubbornness of advertisers, product marketers and the like. What should be done over anything else, a move that will see the most direct results, is a comprehensive enhancement of the education behind gender neutrality on all fronts. Parents have an obligation to first realize the flaws these products enforce, and in turn, teach it to their children.

One can only hope that this proposal will help to alter the norms that currently infect our society, prompting the corporations and entities that promote such principles to alter their message. Lammily is an example of commodified feminism at best, and unfortunately, it misses what it was initially intended to do.

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