Lammily, GoldieBlox Lead With Era of Confidence-Building Dolls

A rendering of the Lammily doll.
A rendering of the Lammily doll. –YouTube

If you ever wrote Santa asking for a doll that promotes a positive body image and gender equality, you’re in luck. If you never did, but think that sounds pretty great, you’re in luck, too.

This week Lammily, introduced as a doll with realistic physical proportions and flexible limbs, flat sneaker-clad feet, and minimal amounts of makeup is on the market. Pittsburgh-based inventor Nickolay Lamm raised more than $500,000 this year to bring his idea to life, and the Lammily first edition doll is developed, real, and priced at $25—just in time for the holiday rush.

Lammily embodies healthy physical proportions based on the average 19-year-old American woman according to the CDC. A package of 38-Lammily Marks stickers, featuring acne, freckles, bruises, and stretch marks, can be purchased for an additional $6.

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Granted, Lammily is white with straight brown hair, and probably upper middle class, based on her internationally-inspired wardrobe, but she’s still a positive change to the industry. The outfit she arrives in is even a conservative choice—an ombré chambray shirt and denim shorts, which, a colleague pointed out, is also a very daring fashion choice. Lamm said he plans to reinvest his extra capital (he told Elle.com that his original monetary goal to produce the doll was $95,000) to expand the line to include different ethnicities and body types. Additionally, Lamm brought on former Heatherette and Betsey Johnson designer Pamela Thompson to create an expanded wardrobe for Lammily which will be available in mid-January.

Lammily launches on the heels of GoldieBlox’s entry to doll industry, introducing hammer-wielding, toolbelt-wearing female “action figure’’ to the market for the holiday rush. Its campaign reads, “Fashion dolls teach girls to value beauty over brains. One is sold every 3 seconds.’’

Their “girl inventor’’ doll is designed to have “hands that grip’’ and comes with a functional zipline, meant to inspire youngsters to construct a functional toy that instills “basic engineering principles and confidence in problem solving.’’ She has poseable joints, brushable blonde hair, and zero ability to swap out her clothes, changing the focus on her function from superficial to spatial.

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In a similar (albeit not as well executed) effort, Mattel recently set out on a mission to prove that Barbie, despite her physical constraints, was indeed a good role model for young girls. The company produced a series of occupation-tied products under the “I Can Be…’’ line, giving Barbie wardrobe-assisted, weirdly specific careers like a “cookie chef,’’ “swim champion,’’ and “entrepreneur—with accompanying books on their professional prospects.

This week, the progressive-in-theory “computer engineer’’ iteration, which comes with the ironic B-side career choice, “actress,’’ recently received her literary accoutrement, and people aren’t too jazzed about it.

In the book, Barbie is supposed to be en route to becoming a computer engineer, but apparently only has “design ideas’’ for a game and needs the help of her male programmer friends to complete it. Not exactly a feminist ideal. Gizmodo (and the rest of the internet) quickly rewrote the narrative, heavy on the expletives.

Mattel VP Lori Pantel issued an apology following the Internet backlash, telling TIME:

“We believe girls should be empowered to understand that anything is possible and believe they live in a world without limits. We apologize that this book didn’t reflect that belief. All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girls imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.’’

I can’t think of anything more empowering than being able to stand on your two feet without the help of high heels. Maybe someday, Barbie.

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