As humans, we love art. And we also love the human form, the human figure, and the way we present ourselves to the outside world. Clothing is art we drape over our bodies in order to enhance our attractiveness. People go to great lengths to increase their attractiveness in the eyes of their contemporaries, mostly using clothing.
Believe it or not, men used to wear high heels. And wigs. And they used to powder their faces, too. Longer waistcoats (vests), combined with tight-fitting breeches sometimes gave 17th century men the appearance of prancing around court in women’s skirts. Before that, a “tunic” was basically a skirt that men and women both wore.
Art is a huge part of who we are as a species.
But what about women?
In the 17th century, men played the peacock more than ever. Men clothed themselves in elaborate costumes made out of expensive fabrics and dyes. Modern chemical engineering in the late 19th century democratized fabrics and dyes that were very expensive during previous centuries, making them more accessible to more people, including middle-class women.
Fashion cycles move at warp speed
The creative revolution in advertising in the 1950s and 60s was to a large extent encouraged by hyper-fast, sped up fashion cycles introduced by clothiers in order to juice their profits. This is fun stuff, but what does it have to do with the darling of this article, Valeria Lukyanova, the self-proclaimed “most famous woman on the Russian-speaking internet”?
Valeria is using every available tool she has
The clothing we wear is often limited by the size and shape of our bodies. Our own aesthetic sensibilities, the outward appearances we value, may differ from the bodies we were born with. And we have a variety of tools at our disposal to change how our bodies are perceived by other people. Some people stop at clothing, others pursue cosmetic surgery. Valeria has done both in order to make herself look like a living Barbie doll.
She doesn’t stop there
Many of Valeria’s fans, and her detractors, take things a step further by digitally modifying her photos.
Valeria Lukyanova claims she’s only had one cosmetic surgery procedure, a breast augmentation, and she completes her look using corsets, make up, and whimsical clothing. But is that even true? It’s going to be hard to say without knowing for sure, but let’s have a look anyway.
The “Living Doll” phenomenon is all about…acting, fashion, and Photoshop!
Did you know there are over 40 muscles in your face, and, depending on which ones you learn to use, and how you use them, you can make yourself look like a completely different person in a photograph, or even a movie? Being able to manipulate one’s face for different purposes is the bread and butter of actors and models. Her lips may not be this pouty normally, but she could certainly have trained her face to make them look like they do in her photos. Or she may not consider non-surgical lip augmentation to be a “cosmetic procedure.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say her face looks pretty natural to me, especially in the following photo.
But her waist on the other hand IS impossibly tiny. Check it out.
This type of waist cannot be created with cosmetic surgery, or even a procedure like a Brazilian butt lift. There are only two methods I can think of to create a waist this small. The first is corseting. And the second is digital manipulation. Corseting can be dangerous when taken to extremes because it weakens the abdominal muscles. Extreme corseting even has the potential to rearrange internal organs. Digital manipulation is, of course, harmless to a person’s physical health. Valeria claims to have achieved this look using corseting. Her claim is within the realm of possibility.
Starvation is bad…ok?
Cosmetic surgery is one thing. It has its risks, but the vast majority of patients are happy with their results. Corseting is harmless unless it’s taken to extremes. More than anything else, Valeria’s claim that she starves herself in order to achieve her ideal body worries me the most. Starvation has many side effects, including muscle loss, hair loss, heart problems, paralysis, and even kidney failure. In Valeria’s case, she still looks reasonably healthy. Check out these photos of her legs.
In the shot all the way to the left, it looks as though Valeria may have experienced some muscle loss from her starvation campaigns. She doesn’t look emaciated, just really thin. Of course I’m a cosmetic surgeon, not a graphics expert, so it’s hard to say for sure if these photos are 100% unaltered.
When perfect isn’t good enough
What does it mean to have the perfect appearance, to live up to the human ideal? Even after achieving as perfect a human form as possible, some people will never be content. They always want more, and rich, famous, and perfect just isn’t good enough. Some people, people like Valeria Lukyanova, want to go beyond the human ideal in order to become something different, something less like a human and more like an object. A doll is an object, a toy, a children’s plaything. A doll is perfect in ways a human can’t be, which is why it’s so striking to see a woman like Valeria take the porcelain-perfect appearance of a one.
Art has no limitations
Valeria’s detractors use a variety of arguments to discount her appearance. Some say she’s had more surgeries than she claims. Some claim all of her photos are altered. Justin Jedica, a cosmetic surgery enthusiast who looks like a Ken doll, claims Valeria uses “drag queen tricks,” like corseting and elaborate make-up, to achieve her appearance.
I’m not sure any of that matters in the grand scheme of human striving and aspiration. Regardless of how she does it, Valeria’s appearance is bold, striking, and consistent with her goal of becoming a “human Barbie doll.” She is a living, breathing, walking, talking objet d’art who has taken her craft to bizarre and astonishing heights. Her appearance is even natural in a way. It’s the natural result of a culture driven by science, technology, medicine, and the innate desire to exceed our human limitations.
Dr. Matlock is the founder of the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of Los Angeles in West Hollywood, CA. He is also a cast member on E!’s national and international hit show, Dr. 90210.