From Pixels to Plastic

Written excitedly by Kayla VanFleet (@kayvanfleet)

Precursor: I want you to all think about how many discussions in this class circle back to feminism, gender representation, equality, etcetcetc while we study the power of social media. With that seemingly never-ending conversation in mind, do we think products like these (fully integrated with apps & an online presence) might allow these discussions to soften after years of implementation? I believe that once girls at a young age are (no longer told but are) naturally shown to value “brains over beauty” with a simple representation of beauty, a drastic change for the long run would be implemented.

Last year, I saw GoldieBlox’s “Princess Machine” ad. Just like the reaction of the 3 million other viewers, my heart melted. (I’m also a sucker for anything that has to do with babies, so I’m probably biased.) There was a lot of drama since the young company “naively” used Beastie Boy’s song – but we’re not focusing on that, either. Last week, the doll company released another video – starkly reminiscent of (you-know-exactly-what-do-I even-need-to-say) Apple’s 1984.

My jaw dropped & faded into an open mouth smile. This company is doing something incredible. I rummaged through their Twitter, Facebook, website, their everything: it’s filled with such a strong, positive brand image that my smile was intact for days. Thank you for being a brave, young company leading this race;  unapologetically showing young girls to follow their passion, even when its not dotted with pink or sparkles.

Now. As long as you opened your computer the past year, you’ve probably seen Lammily. With average body proportions, stickers for dirt, pimples, cellulite, you name it; this doll is givin’ Barbie a run for her money. To the brilliant Nickolay Lam – thanks for understanding, listening, and knowing this destructive representation of beauty girls are given on their birthday every year. Most importantly, for finally being the one courageous enough to do something about it. Yesterday, Lammily released this video which is starkly reminiscent of the photoshop before/after compilations that we’ve seen time & time again; only this time, it’s with dolls.

With the heartwarming & industry changing stories each of these products are telling…I want to shift focus to the fact that each these products hit the ground running thanks to online efforts.  Kickstarter allowed GoldieBlox to grow, and now she’s making headlines in Time, AdWeek.  Lammily was crowd sourced with enough support for production after only a few days; crowdsourcing for ran viral through Business Insider, USAToday, Elle, and pretty much everything else. Not to mention the wildly endless Buzzfeed articles all. over. facebook. These brands were shared and spread unto countless online outlets and because of it, they are now a reality.

I think these are direct responses to complains that grown women, parents, adolescents, 20-somethings, and young girls have cried out for. Companies create campaigns to redefine beauty (ie Dove, Aerie) – but GoldieBlox and Lammily are young concepts that were deliberately created by a new definition; they are a direct response to a whole(/mistake) in the market. These brands will never have to go back on what they originally promised, they won’t have to rewrite their words. They’re existing as a truth that many people have desired for a while – and I hope this is only the first wave of redefined businesses.

The masterminds behind these dolls saw a need, crated a vision, and understood how to use online outlets to get them there.

Are they going to get the attention and support and duration they deserve? Or, will they sadly fade into a feel-good story when another trendy or feminist or unbelievable Kickstarter goes viral?

I suppose it’s all up to us…but, I know I have two gift options for my two-year-old niece this Christmas.

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