How Human Barbie Made Even More Headlines in 2013

Human Barbie with Barbie (Valeria Lukyanova/Facebook)Of all the stars to be born on the Internet, one of the strangest is surely Valeria Lukyanova, otherwise known as the "Human Barbie." While critiquing the Barbie archetype and promoting a realistic body image has been a popular trend online and in digital art lately, Lukyanova has gone the opposite route. The Ukrainian model's physique is her medium, and she's consciously transformed herself into a living doll.

When images of Lukyanova first began circulating in 2012, some news outlets called her a fake. But since then, she's done a number of interviews and has been the subject of a short documentary. In a world overrun with airbrushed images, stick-thin models, a multibillion-dollar cosmetic surgery industry, and distorted ideas about what real women should look like, Human Barbie has touched a cultural nerve.

Researcher and artist Nickolay Lamm said that discounting Lukyanova as a freak or curiosity because she's so outrageous is a mistake and believes that she's emblematic of what can happen when girls internalize idealized proportions, like those of Barbie dolls. "Young women who are healthy and fit, say 'I need to lose some weight,'" he said. "Who are they comparing themselves to?"

Lamm has created a number of viral art projects that address Barbie and other fashion dolls and their impact on the body images of girls and young women. He's airbrushed the makeup off of dolls, created diagrams of what women would look like with Barbie's measurements, and designed a Barbie with natural proportions. "She is so extreme that people think she's a crazy weirdo and don't look at the bigger, much more silent problem of young girls trying to achieve an impossible ideal."

Lukyanova's anime-like appearance has even spawned other saucer-eyed, wasp-waisted copycats such as Anastasiya Shpagina (who reportedly is also her best friend), KotaKoti, and Angelica Kenova. Everything she does seems to be focused on grabbing attention, so it's not all that surprising that the (unconfirmed) 24-year-old managed to capture a little more of the media spotlight throughout the year, thanks to her bizarre, bold, and baffling claims. Here, a sampling of her most interesting of 2013.

She time-travels and communes with aliens. Lukyanova, who describes herself as a New Age guru, told the Daily Beast in August that she started having out-of-body experiences as a child and now visits with people from other civilizations. She can also travel to other planets and communicates with aliens using light (though she doesn't explain the mechanics of this extraordinary feat).

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Space Barbie (Valeria Lukyanova/Facebook)

She's married (but not necessarily to a human). Although Lukyanova says she's known her husband for 10 years, and he is a friend of her father's, when asked in the same interview if he is human, she pointedly says she doesn't want to discuss that.

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She's not a fan of "Real-Life Ken." Lukyanova might have found a soulmate in Justin Jedlica, whom she met for a photo shoot in early 2013, but soured on him when he blabbed that she'd achieved her appearance through plastic surgery. While Jedlica freely admits that he's had more than 90 procedures, Lukyanova cops to having had breast implants but no other cosmetic procedures. She swears that her CGI appearance is a result of diet, exercise, makeup, and colored contact lenses. She also claims that younger images of herself looking more natural were "Photoshopped."

She's a "professional mountain climber." In an English-language interview with V magazine in January, Lukyanova said she spends weeks scaling the Himalayas. Does she race back home through time and space to keep up with her daily beauty routine?

Human Barbie Hiking (Valeria Lukyanova/Facebook)

She’s also a self-styled opera singer. Lukyanova’s early videos were mainly makeup tutorials and odd, disjointed posing sessions, reminiscent of a string of animated Paris Hilton selfies, but lately, she’s been frequently posting clips to YouTube of herself singing original compositions under her spiritual name, “Amatue.” Viewer reaction has been mixed. One YouTube commenter described her voice as being like a “siren,” another asked if there were “dolphins birthing nearby.”

She aspires to live only on air. She told a reporter for the Independent who tracked her down in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, "In recent weeks I have not been hungry at all; I'm hoping it's the final stage before I can subsist on air and light alone."

While Lukayanova's goal may be to become as doll-like as humanly possible, Lamm's new project tackles the opposite task: to produce a commercially available doll that's as human-like as possible. Imagine that.

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