The Human Barbie Doll Everyone Is Talking About
March 7, 2014

The Human Barbie Doll Everyone Is Talking About

The complexity of the human condition baffles me sometimes. I was only recently thinking, as the Financial Times described the current political situation in Ukraine as Europe’s “most dangerous crisis since the end of the cold war,” how strange it was that the thing I was most concerned about was that weekend’s big soccer game. But it seems I am not alone in continuing to concentrate on the trivial. Indeed, the trivial within Ukraine itself is one of the most popular Google ‘trends’ right now. The Human Barbie Doll, Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova.

To be fair, Lukyanova is pretty engaging. Not only does she look so much like a Barbie Doll that it is unnerving and perversely appealing at the same time, she also claims to have achieved her look without plastic surgery, other than on her breasts. According to the IB Times, the “Human Barbie uses makeup and contact lenses to achieve her doll-like appearance and works out to create her slim figure.”

That was a claim she made in September 2013. Now, amidst growing interest in her as her country hits the headlines for other reasons too, Lukyanova makes an even more incredible claim. She says that she has adopted  Breatharianism, the ‘practice’ of surviving on only light and air, without food and in some cases, it is claimed, water.

Not surprisingly, the Breatharianism has never been scientifically proven to work. It has grounding in Inedia, a phenomenon most popular in India, where some people believe that they can be sustained purely by prana, the vital life force in Hinduism, of which sunlight is an essential component. No claim has been upheld by proper testing, while many cases have been found to be fraudulent. Several attempts have ended in starvation, and Lukyanova herself is painfully thin.

The Human Barbie, though, also claims to be from outer space, possibly Venus, and says that she can time travel. Phrases like ‘scientifically unproven’ are likely to rebound off her force field of plastic breasts and make up shields.

Antithetical to modern science, a terrible example of the objectification of women in the media, and a stark warning against the perils of vanity. Yet somehow Lukyanova is a media sensation. Perhaps our interest is part of a modern day freak show curiosity, where we basically continue the practice of freak shows except through media channels rather than actually visiting in person. Or perhaps we like to feel superior that we don’t feel the need to be so weird and can conform nicely. We are not mocked and pointed at.

Maybe though, in the context of the crisis in Ukraine, part of the Human Barbie’s appeal is her commitment to retreating into a fantasy world, removed from the cold, hard reality of military mobilization and desperate politics. Worrying everyday about Barbie Dolls as an adult may seem vacuous, but our tendency to see interest in war and conflict as virtuous because it is ‘important’ is slight odd as well.

Image Credit: Valeria Lukyanova via Facebook

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John is a freelance writer from the UK, currently living in Japan and thoroughly enjoying their food and whiskey. His first novel, Three Little Boys, and his travel book, Following Football, are currently available on

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