Most of us probably grew up with fashion dolls like Barbie. We can instantly recall what Barbie looks like - tall, skinny in the middle with curves on either end, long blonde hair, a lot of make-up and generally immodest clothing.
What messages did we glean from this "image?" What do our daughters learn from these dolls?
Apparently, one of these messages is that "girls can't do smart things." Barbie recently took flak in the news because of a 2010 book, "
." In it, Barbie explains to her sister, Skipper, that she actually can't do programming - she only creates the design ideas. She will need the help of Steven and Brian to turn her design into a real game.
An apology was quickly issued once this hit the news - but the book has been out for four years!
Now there's a doll based on average women. Illustrator, Nickolay Lamm, first made computer images based on the average 19-year-old woman's measurements, comparing these measurements to those of traditional fashion dolls. He began creating a realistically proportioned fashion doll because he wanted to show that "average is beautiful."
The second graders at St. Edmund's Academy tend to agree with Lamm. Given a Lammily doll - the doll based on average women - the kids seemed pleased. The children remarked that the doll looked like their sisters, aunts or other "real people."
When asked what activities they thought the Lammily doll could do, the second graders believed the doll could run or do gymnastics - "everything I do." Career options for the Lammily doll? A computer job, pilot, swimmer, teacher or surfer. When compared to a Barbie doll, Barbie's jobs were make-up artist, model or fashion star.
The differences in appearance were apparent to the kids. Barbie looks like she's wearing "invisible heels," she's skinnier and wears a lot of make-up. Lammily has more functional feet, a normal body and only wears light make-up.
In the end, each child decided the Lammily doll looked more like themselves than Barbie. Ultimately, when asked which doll they'd take home, the children picked the Lammily doll - of course, they already had Barbie or similar dolls at home.
With so much photo doctoring in the media and other unattainable beauty standards prevalent in society, we sometimes think we need to live up to it all. It's important to teach our children what is realistic - what real beauty is and where it comes from. Teach your children that they already have beauty, inside and out.
And remember, "average is beautiful."