This past week we have heard a lot from our peers about their experiences and thoughts on one of the world’s most popular toys, Barbie. Through the different readings we have learned that Barbie’s introduction to the world forever changed the way that women identify themselves and their material goods.
In Forever Barbie, by M.G. Lord, we learn that Barbie, released in 1959, was meant to be revolutionary. She was supposed to show young girls and women how to be independent and become their own woman, and invent yourself in whatever way you choose (Lord 9). However, what we have learned through discussions and through other readings such as Pearson and Mullins “Domesticating Barbie: An Archaeology of Barbie Material Culture and Domestic Ideology” is that Barbie’s identity is found more so in the things she possess and what she wears rather that what she does. By having one of the worlds most popular toys promoting a message of material culture to kids of today, we are showing them that identity formation is solely found in perfectionism- by looking perfect and having all the right things.
However, we all know that no matter how hard we try being perfect is not possible. New age Barbie, Lammily has set out to challenge Barbie and show that identity is found in flaws and embracing who you really are.
Lammily was created in 2014 by designer Nickolay Lamm who wanted to create a doll that was realistic for the size of an average 19 year old- she has a more realistic waistline, feet are flat unlike Barbie which are solely meant to wear heels, and she even has sticker that can be purchased that include tattoos, cellulite, stretch marks, acne, and scars.
This doll shows young girls that being you doesn’t mean being perfect. Flaws are part of life and make up who we are.
While Lord may argue that Barbie was a break through for women because she could “invent herself with a costume change” (9), Lammily shows that having the right outfit isn’t what makes you who you are. Material culture perpetuated through Barbie over the years has sent the wrong message to young girls about identity formation. It’s not about what you have it’s about owning your so called “flaws” and embracing them as who you actually are.
I hope that Lammily takes off for future generations, or maybe that Barbie could me modeled more like her. To say that a child’s toy doesn’t have an impact on identity formation or gender roles is a lie. Whether young kids realize it or not, these toys are forming the foundation for future beliefs. Having a realistic looking doll that isn’t consumed with looking perfect and having everything could help in helping women attain their independence at a young age as Barbie was supposed to do when she came out in 1959.