With a teeny waist, disproportionately large breasts and wide, icy-blue eyes, 21-year-old Valeria Lukyanova says she is the real natural deal. A real-life Barbie, that is.
That's what she claims anyway. Many are crying foul to her claims of her au natural Mattel-branded looks. Whether she underwent plastic surgery or uses photoshop to carve out that waist remains unclear. On her blog, the model notes that she is the most famous woman on the Russian Internet because of her doll-like appeal.
Hundreds of photos on her Facebook page show a wide-eyed, nearly fake-looking Lukyanova posing in a variety of scanty outfits. But with nearly 8,000 subscribers to her Facebook page, it's unclear whether Lukyanova exists at all, or whether it's all a hoax thanks to the world of photo editing.
She did not return requests for comment, and, upon friending the model, a message from Facebook states, "Sorry, this user has reached the limit of pending friend requests."
If she is real and does not use photoshop on her photos, she likely underwent a barrage plastic surgery. Dr. Malcolm Roth, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said plastic surgery should never be used to transform oneself into a favorite celebrity or, in this case, a play toy.
"We believe evaluating any and all issues that may affect our patients' well-being, including psychological factors, is part of providing total patient care," Roth said in a statement. "Additionally, Valeria is also only 21, so certain milestones in growth and physical maturity ought to be considered before plastic surgery is performed. ASPS cautions patients to keep in mind that plastic surgery is real surgery with real risks, just as with any operation, so the decision should not be taken lightly."
Whether Lukyanova is real or fake, photoshopped or plastic surgery, Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston, said the mystery of her existence is not the issue. The problem is that her flaunted image epitomizes and exemplifies the issue of objectification of women in today's society.
"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."
While Lukyanova is an extreme example of societal expectations of perfect beauty, Levin said, "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."
Levin encouraged parents to have an open discussion with their children about sexualization and objectification in the media.
"Rather than just writing it off as someone or something that is ridiculous, allow your child to share your thoughts and have an open discussion about healthy self-image and expectations for themselves and others," she said.
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