Body image isn’t always about size

I’ve been reading some of the media coverage of “Lammily,” the crowdfunded alternative to Barbie that has “average proportions.” Despite her weird name (I think it sounds like mammary), a lot of people seem to like the idea of a doll that has a more realistic body type. But some critics think that Lammily still sets an unrealistic standard of beauty. I agree, because, after all, she’s a doll. And, being a doll, she has smooth plastic skin that’s all one color — no blemishes or stretch marks in sight.

The heroine of the novel I’m currently writing struggles with body image issues. Like lots of teenage girls, she thinks she’s too fat. She worries that her hair isn’t blonde enough or big enough (the book is set in the ’80s, when big hair was all the rage). But what bothers her the most about herself is what bothered me the most during my teenage years: not having perfect skin.

The people we see in magazines and on TV always have perfect complexions; or if they don’t, then skillful makeup artists and/or Photoshop have helped them to look as if they do. Even now that TV is in high-definition, it’s amazing how rarely you see pimples, dark spots, or blotches on anyone. Now, of course it would be unrealistic to suggest that the maker of Lammily should create a doll with a skin problem. But, in my opinion, even if we fix the problem with Barbie’s proportions, we still have a problem of young people thinking they’re not attractive enough, and comparing themselves to an external standard.

What do you think? As a teenager, do you (or did you ever) struggle with body image and unrealistic expectations of beauty? Do you think a doll like Lammily will help kids feel better about how they look?