Valeria Lukyanova, a Ukrainian model who is a living Barbie, became an overnight Internet sensation after photos of her unbelievably proportioned frame and doll-like face circulated like wildfire on the web. Viewers gaped at her huge, glassy blue eyes, her seemingly plastic skin and her carved waist. Skeptics questioned whether her photos were legitimate or if they had been digitally altered.
Valeria Lukyanova's YouTube channel, Amatue, has amassed over 1.8 million video views already. On this channel, she posts videos of herself with and without her doll makeup. The aforementioned videos have topics like beauty doll, make-up doll, beautiful doll doll looks and doll facial features.
Her Facebook page feature hundreds of photos of the Barbie girl in various poses painted with an array of cosmetics. In some shots, she poses in bikinis that show off her extremely thin frame, a miniscule waist and an ample bosom. In others, she flaunts a face layered with foundation, false eyelashes, gems and even contact lenses to achieve that big, doe-eyed doll look.
On her personal website, the real-life Barbie describes herself as the most famous Russian woman on the Russian-language Internet. The 21-year-old writes about meditation and her music career. According to NMA.TV, she is hoping to attract more fans in France and in other countries throughout Europe.
Her living-doll looks have brought her Internet fame but some are shocked by her physical appearance. Horrified viewers have blasted the model over her Barbie looks. One commented: She looks not only ugly, but ridiculous. Another wrote: A woman with completely perfect features is a boring woman. Another asked: Isn't unhealthy obsession on looking like a Barbie doll a part of her identity though?
But is she real?
Photoshop or Cosmetic Surgery?
Viewers of Valeria Lukyanova's Facebook photos and YouTube videos have commented on just how unrealistic the 21-year-old looks (and it is not solely because of the plastic surgery). Lukyanova's awfully tiny, carved waist has drawn the most attention.
Fashion and beauty blog Styleite noted the videos Lukyanova posted about her raw food diet, which could explain her teeny-tiny waist.
Others were more skeptical.
The New York Daily News wrote, Lukyanova seems to have achieved her doll-like look through a combination of heavy make-up, plastic surgery, and Photoshop.
Photoshop user, commented one YouTube viewer. Another, more verbose, commenter wrote: you Valeria syndrome narcissism! all [sic] your photos on the internet does not correspond to reality! you? are very mislead people that are trying to look at the photos because you do not look, the real picture on your baginya.org ... and you very well know about it.
The photos Lukyanova posts of her without makeup pose a stark contrast to the girl who wears a full face of white eye makeup, porcelain skin and pink lips. Other Internet living dolls have shown how cosmetics can be used to achieve the doll look with YouTube makeup tutorials.
Of course, the makeup still does not explain that waist.
An impossibly tiny waist is actually possible. Ethel Granger had the smallest waist of any woman of all time. But, this was not a biological trait. Her husband, astronomer William Arnold Granger, did not like the shapeless 1920s dresses his wife wore. So he requested that she wear corsets and other figure-hugging attire. According to Vogue Italia, he thought, if she can outshine other members of her sex in some way, this is a victory worth any amount of suffering. Ethel wore corsets every day, all day, even while she slept. Her 24-inch waist eventually squeezed down to a shocking 13 inches.
Barbie As Role Model
Valeria Lukyanova's real waist might not be quite as small as Ethel Granger's, but the two are similar to a certain extent.
Valeria Lukyanova's inspiration is Barbie, a doll that has been a beloved girlhood toy since 1959. Still, it is a plastic figurine constructed in a factory that does not adhere to normal human standards. Granger's motivation was not only her cajoling husband, but also the cultural influences surrounding her at the time.
It would be inaccurate to see Ethel and William Granger's story simply as the sadistic wishes of a demanding sexually perverse husband who wished to cripple his wife: they were a couple that expressed themselves and embraced a subculture that in that period, the late 20s, 30s and 40s, had magazines such as London Life as a point of reference, wrote Vogue Italia.
If Lukyanova attempted to actually transform into a life-size version of Barbie, it would be physically impossible (and quite dangerous).
In April 2011, Galia Slayen wrote in a Huffington Post column about a 2007 high school project for which she constructed a real-life Barbie with converted dimensions.
If Barbie were an actual woman, she would be 5'9 tall, have a 39 bust, an 18 waist, 33 hips and a size 3 shoe. Barbie calls this a 'full figure' and likes her weight at 110 pounds, wrote Slayen. Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate. If Barbie was a real woman, she'd have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston, told ABC News that the popularity of Valeria Lukyanvoa exemplifies the issue of objectification of women in society, regardless of how extreme her case is.
Barbie has always been controversial and really changed the discussion on how girls play, said Levin, author of the book, So Sexy So Soon: The Next Sexualized Childhood and How Parents Can Protect Their Kids. When Barbie came around, play suddenly became about dressing up and looking right and it eventually played a role in how women wanted to look in real life.
If society expects women to look like that, it is harder for almost any woman to totally resist it. This just feeds into our media screen culture, where being involved with real things are becoming more and more removed for children, Levin said. Even if she's totally Photoshopped, the fact that her body is being changed to one that no one actually can attain epitomizes what is happening in our society.
Other Barbie Doll Wannabes
Valeria Lukyanova is not the first woman to attempt to transform herself into the childhood doll. Young girls have adored the doll for decades, but some adult women have gone to extreme measures to emulate Barbie's look and physique.
A British woman named Sarah Burge paid $800,000 in plastic surgery procedures to morph herself into a life-size version of a Barbie doll. She has reportedly had a successful career marketing herself as a Barbie lookalike.
I actually agree she would probably look a bit freaky if life size but as a doll she looks fantastic, she told BBC News. There's nothing wrong in using her as a role model when it comes to looks, as well as attitude to life. At the end of the day you don't see a personality from across a room do you. It's empowering for women to be who they want to be and not just live with the body and face they were born with.
Burge gained notoriety when the media published a story about Burge offering her 7-year-old daughter plastic surgery vouchers. Her daughter Poppy's Christmas gift was a voucher, worth about $11,000, for liposuction when she gets older. For Poppy's seventh birthday, she received a voucher for breast augmentation, worth about $9,500.
It was a dream come true, Poppy said. I can't wait to be like mummy with big boobs.
Burge is currently promoting kid parties at Botox clinics where girls ages seven to 13 can get spray tans and hair extensions, according to The Week.
The living-doll trend developing on the Internet has become somewhat of a craze as of late, with the likes of Venus Angelic and Dakota Rose gaining popularity for their doll-like features.
Venus Angelic, whose real name is Venus Palermo, is a 15-year-old girl who is gaining enormous popularity on the Internet for her YouTube tutorials on her official YouTube channel detailing how to make oneself look like a living doll.
Another Internet sensation is Dakota Rose, known to her fans as Kota Koti, who has amassed an online following of over 50,000 on YouTube with over 13 million video views. In most of her hair and beauty tutorials, where Dakota Rose teaches viewers how to mimic her doe-eyed, bow-lipped style, the young girl remains silent as subtitles provide a step-by-step guide for viewers.
What do you think of the living Barbie trend? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.