Children are heavily influenced by observational learning and tend to imitate those around them. This imitating can apply to parents’ attitudes, peers, siblings, and even to their toys. Therefore, when a young girl plays with an unrealistically proportioned Barbie who wears an excessive amount of make-up, it makes you wonder what type of behavior or ideas are rubbing off on that child. Will this child take the unrealistic figure of the Barbie to be normal, or even desirable? Will she think of the overly made up face of her toy as necessary?
Artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm from the UK wondered the same thing. Therefore, he decided to digitally remove the makeup from different images of Barbie as well as other popular dolls to see what the resulting image would be. When stripping off the thick eye-shadow, fake eyelashes, and bright lipstick a natural looking face was revealed. There were five images of these natural Barbie’s and one of a natural Bratz doll. And while they may not look quite as “glamorous” anymore, the resulting look is something much more realistic. In the end, rather than overly-made up, wouldn’t many parents prefer their children to imitate a natural look and have more faith in natural beauty?
This is the hope that Nickolay has. He hope that companies will adopt this idea and begin to issue some more natural looking dolls to the public and promote positive natural body image to young girls. He also hopes that the next step in this process will be to make the bodies of modern dolls much more proportional and realistic to prevent young girls from getting a distorted sense of what type of body is “normal.”
In my opinion, I think that this is a great idea. It’s difficult to grow up with a positive body image when you began comparing yourself to Barbie at the age of five. I think that having a more natural, more realistic Barbie will benefit everyone…..except for perhaps the companies that produce and distribute these dolls. This may be the biggest obstacle. Body image is not necessarily at the top of these company owner’s priority list, that spot is reserved for profit. Therefore, convincing them to completely alter their product may prove to be a challenge for this advocate of positive body image. However, I have a lot of confidence in his cause and I hope to see Nickolay succeed.