Living Barbie Valeria Lukyanova, a 21-year-old Ukranian model, became an Internet sensation when photos of her doll-like appearance began circulating in the media. Some called her freakish; others called her crazy; but is she "an iconic symbol" of the future of Western society?
Lukyanova's physical appearance is the centrifugal issue at hand. Viewers continue to gape at her huge, glassy blue eyes, her seemingly plastic skin, her ample bosom, her waist-long blonde hair and her carved waist. Skeptics questioned whether her photos were legitimate or if they had been digitally altered because she appears so exceptionally nonhuman.
Valeria Lukyanova has amassed a substantial online following. Her YouTube channel, Amatue, has garnered over 5.3 million views and 3,660 subscribers. Her official Facebook page has over 215,000 "likes." The living Barbie continues to post new photos almost every day, each of these photos gets hundreds to thousands of "likes" and a massive amount of comments.
Interest in Lukyanova has certainly been sparked, but it goes deeper than just her physique.
The story of this living Barbie has spawned a multitude of conversations in the public arena. Professionals have voiced concern over society's obsession with this living Barbie and how she could potentially be "an iconic symbol of things to come."
'An Iconic Symbol' of the Future?
Dr. Keith Ablow penned an article for FOX News on Monday about why he believes Valeria Lukyanova is actually dangerous.
"Now, it seems, a la Valeria/Barbie, our selves may become entirely dispensable and disposable, in favor of becoming a living duplicate of a famous product, or a dead ringer for a celebrity, or (and, trust me, this will happen, too) a would-be tiger, tattooed orange, with stripes, wearing a tail at all times," wrote Ablow.
"I don't know the particulars of Valeria's psyche. One could theorize, however, that a woman moved to imitate a doll-a woman who looks, in fact, lifeless in many of her pictures-may have become so estranged from her real thoughts and feelings and real life history that she has cut herself free from them and is floating in a synthetic world of gawkers who treat her much as she seems to treat herself-an entertainment phenomenon, an 'item,' not a human being."
He goes on to discuss not only plastic surgery, but also drug use and the ramifications of viewing unrealistic reality TV.
"The living Barbie, if a sign of things to come, predicts a time when people flee from their real emotions and real capacity to change their lives and empathize with those of others. It predicts a time when what passes for 'happiness' is being anethetized, when living this 'life' requires one's psychological death, when 'self-expression' requires mimicry of others, even of inanimate objects or fictional characters," Dr. Ablow wrote for FOX News.
Detrimental to Self-Worth?
The issue of Valeria Lukyanova disrupting the notion of self-worth has become another issue until itself. Professionals critiqued that a "living Barbie" should not be introduced into the mainstream media because she could potentially harm the psyche of young girls.
"At any age, placing too much value on physical appearance can be potentially detrimental to a person's self esteem and sense of self worth," Emma Gray, clinical director at the British CBT & Counselling Service, told the Daily Mail. "Equally concerning is why these images have been created and for what purpose. Distorting or enhancing pictures of children so that they appear older and more sexual surely crosses the line between how we should treat the children in our society and how we should not."
Media Frenzy Over Living Barbie
Others have taken note of how the media fawned all over this living Barbie. Thus, kowtowing created a story where there actually was none.
"Not long ago Traveler's digest magazine put Russia and Ukraine among the top five countries with the most beautiful women, naming Kyiv home to the world's most beautiful ladies. Sure, Barbie Lukyanova is a true representative of her land. But with no real interesting story behind that Barbie phenomena the most interesting thing becomes how western media has blown it completely out of proportion and created sensation where none existed," wrote Forbes contributor Katya Soldak.
Lukyanova's photos did cause quite the frenzy. Her story was covered on major networks like ABC and Yahoo!, as well as on style and fashion blogs, in April. Regardless of whether people thought her story was relevant or not, the living Barbie became news.
Fascination over her continues to this day, as people continue to analyze her mysterious persona and as she continues to provide fuel for the fire.