Two years ago, Nickolay Lamm launched Lammily dolls aka "Normal" Barbies to combat the unrealistic beauty standards girls face from a young age. Since then, the realistically-proportioned doll line has expanded with empowering marketing campaigns, educational accessories and pamphlets about menstruation and add-on sticker packs that let kids give their dolls acne, stretch marks mosquito bites and more.
Wednesday morning, the toy creator unveiled a new addition to the Lammily doll family -- a male doll with a more realistically proportioned body. Think: "Normal Ken."
"I feel men also feel pressure in the form of not being tall, not having enough hair, not having enough muscle, etc.," Lamm told The Huffington Post. "I think those are things which few talk about because, as a guy, you're kind of expected not to worry too much about your appearance and because women face beauty standards on another level."
The "boy Lammily" doll will serve as an alternative to the many highly muscular action figures and male fashion dolls on the market today. Lamm said the doll's design is based on the CDC's data on the average measurements and BMI for 19-year-old and 24-year-old males in the U.S.
At the moment, the final "boy Lammily" is only a digital prototype, but the creator said he hopes his new crowdfunding campaign will help make the empowering toy a reality. Once funded and manufactured, the actual doll will come with a story "describing what he does and who he is" and the option for kids to choose their own names for him.
"I think realistic representations of men can positively influence kids' body image and show boys it's cool to show your emotions," Lamm told HuffPost.
Lamm drew inspiration for the male doll from his personal experience with body image. "Back in high school I thought I needed to lose weight because I read that I needed a really low body fat percentage in order to achieve a six pack," he said. "I'm not that tall, so I'm like, 'hey, at least I'll have a six pack!' I became so skinny that I just didn't recognize myself anymore."
"My experience in high school essentially came down to me being influenced by the media, peers, many different things," he continued. "I often internalized these pressures and they became core to my identity. Who I was, was directly linked to what I looked like. And how much time I spent worrying about my looks is time I'll never get back."
Reading reports that showed fashion dolls like Barbie may lead to eating disorders and other body image issues compelled Lamm to take action. After releasing the female Lammily doll in 2014, he started receiving requests for a "realistic boy doll," as well.
"I also read Brian Cuban's book called Shattered Image, which showed me that there are many men out there who suffer from the affects of negative body image," he said. "So, to me, the boy doll is the next logical step."
Lamm's new crowdfunding campaign only just launched today, but he's already received pledges of nearly $8,000 toward his goal of $70,000. He hopes even more parents, educators, businesses and everyday citizens will "join the toy revolution" to make playtime a more positive experience for children.
"I've seen boys play with [girl] Lammily dolls because they like how 'real' the doll looks," Lamm said. "It's almost as if it stops being a doll and it becomes a tiny person. Kids are very observant about the small details, the toes, the fingers, the belly button."
He added, "I hope that, playing with realistically proportioned dolls, kids may have a better chance to grow up with realistic expectations about their own appearances."
To learn more about the new Lammily doll, visit the crowdfunding campaign website, and keep scrolling for more images of the design.