Last week I was wasting my usual amount of daily time in compulsive internet browsing: from IKEA to Financial Times, from Huffington Post to the new Spring collection of Max&Co, from Bloomberg to Lufthansa offers, from the Macro Prudential Policies Bulletin to the new catalogue of Barbies. Because financial markets might be in distress, but toys are always ruling the world.
I have to admit I have never been a big fan of Barbies per se, but of course they were a status symbol and society told me I needed to have at least 5 of them. Together with the vast variety of gadgets: dresses and houses, bags, shoes, and also Ken –her super good looking boyfriend.
I always had the feeling she was tremendously fake: her body was not proportioned, her neck was too long, her legs too thin, her hips too narrow, her head too tiny. Far from being realistic, close to being a monster… nevertheless she was so artificially beautiful. And although I liked Ken, I hated her.
When a couple of years ago I found out that someone was trying to produce an alternative doll with average, realistic, women sizes, I was so happy about it that I participated in the crowdfunding. What I liked the most about Lammily –this is her name- was the fact that she was pretty short, with brownish hair, not too thin, fit but not excessively, regular hips, wearing a pair of jeans, a white t-shirt, a pair of training shoes, a hoodie: fine… she looked very much like me. I was already well above the “doll age” but I loved her so incredibly much.
I believe that also Mattel –Barbie’s manufacturer- realized that I was not the only one enjoying this comforting feeling of identification, and their new catalogue currently includes “curvy”, “petite”, “tall” and “original” versions of the famous doll. Following the same trend,
Soon the unofficial version of Barbie will be available with the Hijab: Hijarbie, for Muslim girls. And I believe the Nigerian girl who invented it shared my same feelings when she was playing with a super tall, thin, half naked blonde, wearing ridiculously high heels, a shiny meagre tank top and a pair of shorts covered with paillettes…
Regardless of the fact that I would rather avoid classifying my doll -hence myself- as “curvy” or “petite”… I am not sure whether toys should resemble reality and limit imagination, or they should – on the contrary – be everything perfect, that may be very distant from how we are in reality, but at least forces you to see and accept the differences between you, the others and a toy.
In any case, I definitely prefer Lammily: she is so much nicer…
Plus, they also sell her with a Hannukah outfit!
*Susanna Calimani is a wandering economist, currently based in Frankfurt.