“Barbie Blad” Photo Series Shows America’s Favorite Beauty Queen In A Harsher Light

We’ve all heard the criticism that Barbie dolls warp young girls’ beauty ideals, but what if those little girls got to see a Barbie with a less than perfect appearance? Paris photographer Hamid Blad wanted to take a deeper look at Barbie’s beauty (or lack thereof), so he put together his “Barbie Blad” series, which features Barbies from varying eras in a less flattering light than we’re used to seeing in the toy aisle. His goal was to illustrate the line between real and false beauty, so Blad used the 19th-century collodion image-making process for the photos, which takes longer than modern photography to expose and develop. He also incorporated a UV light that makes the dolls seem a bit less fake and cropped them tightly. Blad styled the dolls’ hair and skin as if they were real models and named them after ’70s runway icons.

Blad told Slate, “Barbie dolls as iconic representations of beauty are nothing but beautiful faces on plastic mannequins, artificially smooth and sparkling. When I photograph these dolls, I want them to come to life. I try to give them a real face with imperfections … I realized that some dolls are very different from others, just like humans, certain ones were more photogenic.” Some of the Barbies still look as perfect as ever under the harsh light, which is mildly infuriating. That said, many of the Barbies look unflattering or downright creepy in the series. Some of them feature flyway hairs, bad shadowing on their skin, and a gaunt look to their faces, though they’re obviously lacking in the real wrinkles and imperfections that a human woman would have. Regardless, it goes to show that even the most beautiful or plastic among us are likely to reveal physical flaws under a certain light or at a specific angle, which is a comforting thing — none of us are perfect, and that’s exactly what young Barbie fans could benefit from learning. Click through for a few of Blad’s images and decide for yourself just how solid Barbie’s beauty is.

[Refinery 29]