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March 5, 2014

What if fashion dolls were made according to standard body proportions?

That's what I asked myself when I made a prototype of a fashion doll based on the average 19 year-old female body measurements from the CDC. This project, which the media nicknamed "Real Barbie" wound up on CNN, Time, and more.

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Some people automatically think "Real Barbie" was created by a woman. I'm a male, but I think that feelings of inadequacy are felt by everyone. When I was in high-school, I really wanted six-pack abs. After a couple months, I got those abs, but essentially starved myself in the process.

My cheeks were swollen-in and I looked pretty terrible. I wanted to change a part of my body and set such high expectations for myself that I didn't take into account genetics and the limits of my own body.

That experience was one of the inspirations for creating "Real Barbie." I wanted to show that you don't have to have some kind "out of this world" figure to be beautiful.

I created "Real Barbie" rather than "Real Ken" because I know that women are subject to much higher beauty standards than men and felt that a re-designed fashion doll would make a much stronger statement than a re-designed Ken.

After "Real Barbie," many kids and parents asked me to create a doll with those proportions. I also read virtually every online internet comment. There were, of course, people who criticized the doll's proportions, but, overall, there was a very positive sentiment.

I got in touch with Roger Rambeau, a former Vice President of Manufacturing at Mattel. I worked with 3D modelers to create a doll called Lammily, which uses the original project's body as a base. I gave the new design a new face, hair, and clothes so that she has a sweet "girl next door" look. If real women, with average proportions look beautiful, there's no reason why a doll can't be made according to those same proportions.

The design took many months to finalize. Although I used the body from the original project as a base, I had to smooth out and stylize the doll so that she could ultimately be manufactured. The face of the doll, which is seemingly simple, took weeks to finalize because tiny details, such as the indentation in the lips, gave the doll completely different expressions. I wanted the face to be sweet and welcoming, and that's what the final face design is.

I also made sure that Lammily would appeal to parents and kids. The longevity of Lammily past the crowdfunding project depends on kids wanting to play with her, not parents forcing them to play with Lammily, like healthy broccoli. Lammily isn't just a doll with typical human body proportions, she is a cool and fun doll, which just happens to have typical proportions. Lammily isn't meant to be a replacement for current fashion dolls, but as a companion in the doll world. Because Lammily looks like a typical girl, I feel she makes for a new character which girls' can add to their doll house.

You may have guessed that Lammily is a take on my family name. Lammily was a family project and the look of Lammily would be different if it weren't for their advice. For example, my cousin and aunt suggested that the clothes be more "real," less doll-like and that's exactly what I did. I also wanted the name to be something which people have never heard before. The original plan was to name the doll "True to You." I decided that "Lammily" is much more memorable and lets the design of the doll do the talking rather than forcing the message.

Right now, there's no product in the fashion doll market which promotes realistic beauty standards and which is affordable. The goal of Lammily is to provide a new alternative to parents and girls. I feel there's so much criticism of current dolls on the market and some of us are waiting for something to happen. With Lammily, there is no waiting. Backers can help create a doll which, in my opinion, should have been made decades ago.

The slogan of this crowdfunding campaign is that "average is beautiful." Many of us strive to be above average in many things. But, in terms of our body, there's only so much we can do. Typical body proportions are not something we can change. As Lady Gaga would say "You were born this way."

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