This week, I caught wind of a cool new project on PolicyMic: Toy designer Nickolay Lamm decided to take the designs of Barbie-like doll and raise money to get them produced. The cool part? The doll has realistic proportions to that of a normal (healthy) 19-year-old woman.
Despite having a really ridiculous name (“Lammily?” Really, dude?), this project rocks my socks for a few reasons. First, as feminists have been saying for years, presenting girls with impossibly-proportioned dolls is one factor among many that contributes to unrealistic expectations and poor body image when those images cannot be met. Second, someone saw a problem and decided to try and fix it.
I only hope that he doesn’t get screwed over by the government.
The Internet and conservative news outlets are abound with stories and data about how the government comes down hard on entrepreneurs: taxation that threatens to sink their businesses, regulations that take time and money to be in compliance with, ridiculous licensure laws, and, dare I say it, the Affordable Care Act.
Conservatives will talk your ear off about how these kinds of policies mean “losing jobs” and “economic growth.” And they may be right, but let’s get real: no one really knows what that means. For the most part, they are buzzwords that make people feel like they know what they’re talking about.
But people do understand the impact a new kind of doll can have on girls. That doll, and things like it, represent a small but significant step towards fixing a host of social constructs that many people (myself included) feel are problematic. Indeed, it is probably the best solution to that problem that has been created in all the years I’ve been following these issues.
To think that all those governmental burdens could keep dolls and others like it from making it into young girls’ hands.
Look, my liberal friends. I get it. I am never going to convince you that doctors shouldn’t have to have licenses or that the FDA shouldn’t screen drugs before they’re released. I’m never going to persuade any of you that taxation, as an institution, is wrong and counter-productive to a flourishing society. And that’s okay. They are interesting conversations, but they are conversations for the classroom and the dining room table. Even if I could convince you that those things were true, we’re nowhere near implementing them.
But hopefully I can convince you to look and think critically about the interference of government in businesses. Not because I want to sell you on some sacred right to make a buck—but because of Lammily. (I can’t believe I just typed that. REALLY, DUDE?) Entrepreneurs have an outstanding, long-lasting impact in facilitating positive social change, which is why it is important that governments do not strangle them with excessive and unnecessary regulations. A great many regulations only serve to crowd out competition of bigger businesses, rather than serving any potential legitimate public interest.
When restaurants want to keep people out because they are gay, LGBT-friendly people need to have breathing room to start establishments that welcome them. When a person wants to dig themselves out of poverty by doing what they love, they shouldn’t have to pay an obscene amount of money to get a license they don’t need. If someone wants to provide low-cost cell phones to transient people, they shouldn’t be taxed so much that they can’t hire staff or expand their business.
Lamm is just a dude making a doll, but that doll can make a big difference. If excessive taxation or regulation keep him from making that doll, legitimate, peaceful social change has just been thwarted.
Think about it.