Do Barbie dolls create unrealistic expectations for young women? (Valeria Lukyanova/Tumblr)A recent article about 21-year-old Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova has caused an uproar across the Internet, as people debate whether or not the "real life Barbie" achieved her appearance through cosmetic surgery. It has also stoked a larger debate over whether or not excessive pressure is placed on young women by the media and popular culture to fit within a certain cosmetic mold.
Lukyanova's Tumblr account features some pictures of the model without cosmetics, but in most of the photos she appears to be wearing a lot of makeup. In addition, several readers are questioning whether the photos have been altered, and there's speculation as to whether Lukyanova underwent extensive plastic surgery at such a young age to get her look.
So, are young women really altering their bodies in an attempt to look like Barbie?
Writing for Discovery News, Benjamin Radford says "little research" has actually been done on whether girls actually look up to Barbie as a physical ideal. Radford cites an article from the journal Adolescence, in which authors Tara Kuther and Erin McDonald write that, "the extant literature about Barbie dolls tends to be opinionated and based on essays and popular media articles" rather than actual scientific research and analysis.
In fact, Radford points to a 1995 British study, which found that young girls are actually fond of "torturing" and destroying their Barbie dolls, seeing them as disposable toys rather than a real-life approximation of feminine beauty.
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