Let’s Talk, Lammily…

Fashion is a business. Fashion dolls are also a business. They peddle a fantasy world to their target audiences using marketing, psychology and trend forecasting.

So, where does Lammily fit into this?

Lammily made a bit of a splash back in 2014 when Nickolay Lamm used 3D image software and the numbers from the Center of Disesase Control to create an image of what Barbie would look like if she had the proportions of an average 19 year old teenage girl. He got enough press that he started a crowd funding project to actually make the average alternative ‘fashion’ doll a rubber and plastic reality.

There are two different stories about why he did this, whether it was his high school experiences or that he felt that Barbie wasn’t a woman he could pick up at a bar, he coached his marketing in feminist sounding terms that made the female empowerment movement wild. Over a year later, Lammily has her own website and there is a companion African Doll in the works. So, it seems to be a modest success. But, I doubt you’re going to find Lammily in Target or Wal-Mart aisles any time soon. Especially since Barbie just made a their own ‘curvy’ Barbie along with ‘tall’ Barbie and ‘petite’ Barbie.

You can run around the internet to find all sorts of articles about how while Lamm’s heart is in the right place, his execution is actually not at all empowering and is downright misogynistic and once again, just like Barbie, body shaming with some slut shaming thrown in there for added extra flavor. So, I won’t rehash.

I poked around the Lammily website and came out of it with a feeling of disquiet and a bit of disgust. Not for any of the above reasons. You see, if I was looking to buy a doll for my child without any idea about the origins of Lammily, I still wouldn’t buy it. You see, to Mr. Lamm, accessories are acne, scars and cellulite. There is an entire pack about a ‘period’ party. To me, accessories are jewelry and hand bags and shoes. That’s what my little girl would want.

The clothes are made by someone who has no idea on how to make a pattern. They’re boxy, over sized and dull. Lammily keeps losing her chin to the collars. (Because her neck isn’t long enough. There is a reason why fashion dolls and fashion drawings have long necks.) A few outfits I can tell were made as a push back against occupational Barbie. (Chef Lammily, Military Lammily & Doctor Lammily {ironically Doctor is sold out.})

I can’t tell if this doll has a story or not just by looking at her. She’s wearing a jean shirt and jean shorts (which is a huge fashion no no. Seriously. No. Don’t do this people!) She’s got brown hair and brown eyes and nothing to really set her apart. She’s boring. The last thing I’d want to buy for my child is a boring doll with vinyl stickers of ‘acne.’ Or, a set of panties with little pads to go with them. This isn’t me being against average, this is me being against mediocrity and ill fitting garments!

To me, Lammily feels like women are being pandered to. Mr. Lamm has decided to take what society feels are female weaknesses, body insecurity, periods, and create a doll ‘addressing’ these issues and he manages to do it in the worst possible way.

I remember being a eight year old girl. An eight year old girl doesn’t want to know or have anything to do with periods. Periods are gross. They don’t want to think about it. They shouldn’t have to think about it. I mean, what fun is it to play with a doll that is going “I’m having cramps and need midol and a hot pad.” That’s not fun. That’s not what girls think about when they play! This is like having a doll that ‘wets’ itself so you have to change the diaper. Just why? I can pretend to change a baby doll’s diaper without it being actually ‘wet.’ Let’s leave the bed wetting baby dolls that actually cry to the Family Studies class project of ‘taking care of your egg baby.’ And let’s leave the period talk to the tween years, like the sex talk and let little girls be little girls. (Unless, their periods come on at eight, which is happening in some places.) We can have a period party, when the girls actually get their periods!

The other thing about being an eight year old is that it is during those scant years of your life where it’s okay by societies standards to believe there are fairies in the bushes and yes, sparkles and pink and gold are perfectly acceptable choices of attire. Girls who play with these types of dolls are going to be attracted to the most pretty thing by their standards of pretty. The doll better have some good ruffles and rucheing to attract a little girl’s attention. Sparkly fabrics, bright colors, and clothes that fit and are pleasing to the eye, all of which Lammily lacks. As of this post, the clothes that are sold out on the website are the pretty, sparkle style dresses. These dresses cost more than the doll! (Which is another reason I wouldn’t buy it. These prices are outrageous. These are shelf dolls, not play dolls. I know kids. Kids can be hard on toys no matter their price point. I would be afraid to let a child touch this doll for those prices.) For under half the price of a doll, you can buy her a hat and a scarf which are made from the wrong thread size and gauge needles for a fashion doll. So, they look chunky and once again, ill fitting. (There is a hat in one of the fashion packs that is the correct thread size and needle gauge for a wonder.)

Lammily lost me at period party, acne stickers and a lack luster look. As a business, they failed for me. Honestly, I’d go pre-order one of those ‘curvy’ Barbies if I was looking for a ‘natural’ girl doll. Or, you know, I’d tell my little girl that she’s wonderful and can choose whatever doll she likes. Or even, realize as an adult that no one doll can represent everybody because there are so many different shapes and sizes of women in the world and get over it.

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  1. #1 by aikifox85 on February 8, 2016 - 6:40 am

    Thank you for sharing your opinion. Lammily certainly has her place and there are plenty of us that love her. No, you won’t find Lammily on store shelves (or Mixis, or Prettie Girls, or a number of other dolls whose parent companies are not yet large and powerful enough to run against dominating forces like Mattel), but I think that speaks more to corporate power than anything else.

    As a child, I was always given Barbies as gifts but I never had much interest in them. In particular I recall hating her permanently pointed feet that could only wear heels. I wanted her to be able to wear sneakers. I was much more interested in imagining I was Indiana Jones or the Yellow Power Ranger or She-Ra. In my mind, all Barbie seemed interested in was make-up and dresses and pink.

    I don’t think Mr. Lamm ever intended to start a toy company. He had no experience in the business and had been working as a graphic artist. The concept image that would be the forerunner to the kickstarter campaign was an art project – that went viral. I feel like he more or less stumbled into the toymaker role or was trust into it by the demand of thousands across the internet. The opportunity presented itself and I cannot blame him for rolling with it. I got in on the kickstarter and ordered 2 of the dolls thinking it might be a cool alternative for when my baby cousin is old enough (she had been born earlier that same year and only just turned 2, so I’m still holding onto her Lammily for awhile yet) and got a second for myself to keep in the box on the offchance it might have value in the future (certainly couldn’t hurt).

    But, something happened when these dolls came in the mail. I got curious and opened one… and it was like reconnecting with my childhood. I actually really enjoy that she doesn’t wear make-up, that she came with sneakers, that she came more like the girl-next-door and not as a princess or model. This is the doll I wish I’d had as a child. The acne stickers and the period party thing are optional and do not automatically come with the doll and are certainly not a requirement. Lammily was like a gateway drug for me – I now own nearly 40 dolls (a fair number of them Barbies – no hate coming from me, especially since she can wear flats now, lol).

    You seem to dislike the handmade clothing options available on Lammily.com. It seems all you see are boxy clothes that don’t fit as well as you’d like them to. I see a company that is supportive of DIY culture and is lifting up individuals within it’s community and showcasing their work. That boxy soldier outfit and the sparkly dress are all handmade by an individual person named Cora. They cost more because Cora’s actually getting paid what her labor is worth — and I think this speaks volumes. I appreciate the values that this company seems to carry – values that become even more important to me when I consider the greater fashion world which is often rife with unfair labor practices. To me, Lammily is about more than just looking pretty.

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    • #2 by Ginny O. on February 8, 2016 - 5:29 pm

      I actually didn’t write the original post in response to you, as I wrote it directly after I wrote about the new Barbie. If I had, I would have addressed it to you or replied to your comment in the Barbie post.

      We both have our opinions and to be honest, neither of us are wrong. You like Lammily for reasons that are personal to you. And I find her boring for reasons personal to me. And, you’ve actually told me and thus my blog readers the same thing twice now. Your personal experience is valid and it’s not everyone’s personal experience.

      Maybe others missed my angle of analysis. So, I’ll try to explain.

      I’m coming at this as a person with a background in fashion and as a writer who is interested in stories. As a fashion designer, the clothes pain me. I’ve made patterns. And I can tell that Mr. Lamm doesn’t intend for these clothes to look like that and that the designs are fine in most aspects except the fit! Design and fit are what sells clothes. There is a special class of models called ‘fit models’ just for this purpose. This is a professional pain, not a personal one.

      The writer and fashion business marketer in me doesn’t know what Lammily is doing or where she is going in those denim clothes. The country girl raised part of me mutters about farming and where are her cowboy boots or muck boots and cowboy hat (or feed cap)? (Make the shirt in gingham check and you actually have a story, a soccer loving country girl story. Braids optional.) You have to be able to sell the story of the doll in the default outfit. There is no message from the doll herself despite being touted as a ‘traveler.’ (Where is her kimono from Japan, Liberty of London scarf as a belt?)

      Denim is like khaki in the language of fashion. It says nothing. It’s not about looking pretty. It’s about the message, the fantasy, the story from the doll itself and not what is written on the box. Lammily doesn’t have one in my opinion. (Once again, professional, not personal.) She doesn’t stand apart from Barbie in any other way but her proportions. That isn’t enough to make me want to buy her. (DIY is a very niche market. They are also not a market who is likely to buy clothing packs which is part of a ‘fashion doll’s’ point. You want the collectors to want to buy her. The ones who will buy everything and multiples of the same doll in different outfits.)

      I know the acne and the period party are optional. The fact they are options still makes me feel pandered to along with the overall message of the doll that ‘average is beautiful.’ In order to sell a doll, when looking at his site and what he is selling, it feels to me that he is exploiting what are considered female weaknesses to make money. Children don’t hold the purse strings until they have an allowance. Adults are the ones making most of the toy purchases. He is exploiting the weaknesses of adult females to sell toys. (And you actually proved my point here as you bought them for your cousin.) He may or may not be doing this intentionally, it is still the vibe I get as a writer, as a person with a background in fashion. This is appalling to me. It doesn’t make me excited for the doll and the doll’s story. Those are the values I see from Lammily, no matter what their business practices are, I’m going to see that pandering first.

      I have reiterated this many times in my blog. You can’t represent all women with one woman. Lammily doesn’t represent all women because as a teenager, I sure as hell didn’t look like that. I actually have more of a Barbie Doll figure with a tiny waist. Lammily wouldn’t represent either of my friends or even most the girls in my high school class at that age. In trying not to be Barbie, he ended up being Barbie just with ‘average’ proportions.

      When you talk about corporate power and unfair business practices and Cora being paid ‘what she is worth,’ I feel you don’t think I know about business at all. What you are referencing is a minefield and it’s one I’m not willing to enter having been on both sides of the minefield at different points of my life.

      I’m glad you enjoy Lammily. I’m glad she got you into dolls. You have personal investment and that’s laudable. I can’t address that because it is personal. I wish Mr. Lamm all the success and I wish you the best of days.

      Like

      • #3 by aikifox85 on February 8, 2016 - 6:38 pm

        I actually didn’t think you were responding to me personally and I didn’t even realize I had replied to another of your posts already – if I had I wouldn’t have been redundant. I just find these posts via tag searches and respond to different things on different nights and don’t always recall which ones may have had the same authors. So, my apologies for that.

        Like

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