Remember Barbie? That wee dynamo (clocking in at 11.5 inches) from 1959 whose hip-to-waist ratio was fodder for doctors and worried parents and politicians, all clamoring to point fingers and make claims of irresponsible marketing, poisoned childhoods, and twisted expectations for physical beauty because it was simply impossible to look like that? Well, V magazine found her in the flesh. Not 'Barbie' exactly—21-year-old Ukranian singer/model/artist Valeria Lukyanova has cultivated a look more often found in the adult 'companion' doll market—but the singer/model/artist and aspiring "spiritual leader"'s physical appearance (the result of extensive plastic surgery, intentionally plasticky makeup, and a certain rigidity with which she poses for photographs) might as well be trademarked by Mattel. V had her shot by Sebastian Faena and styled by the inimitable Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele (whom we can only imagine took to the task with glee—Valeria is rocking a lot of gold, chains, and hotpants—though no Adidas, sadly).
In the interview, Valeria says that alternating reality is the "key to life," and that by becoming as 'unreal'-looking as possible (surgeries aside, her extended eyeliner and colored contact lenses are two of many tricks V's interviewer points out in the piece), she is poised to transcend reality, itself. "I won’t deny that I play along with people’s perceptions,” she tells V, “I’m amused by the reactions. I don’t take it seriously.” Of the makeup, she notes, "Most of my makeup I design myself as I put it on. I'm an artistic person, and I love dramatic images and bright makeup...Many people say bad things about people who want to perfect themselves...I'm happy I seem unreal to them, it means I'm doing a good job." Lest you think she has no interests other than her physical form, Valeria is a self-proclaimed out-of-body traveler who teaches at the School of Out-of-Body Travel. Among other things, she tells V that she is a professional mountain-climber, too.
It would be easy to write this off as another outré performer taking a schtick too far, except that she's not alone in her quest to look like a cartoon. YouTube has already made internet celebrities of girls who perfect animé makeup (though one has a tough time imagining them opening and closing their eyes without massive difficulty/heavily smeared results), and there is at least one legitimate pop star who is a hologram (Hatsune Miku, whose video below has almost 19 million views and rising). Everyone's favorite retro-Kewpie bombshell Betty Boop is the new face of Lancôme Hypnôse Star mascara. Going to extreme lengths to "perfect" oneself is hardly new, but for that 'perfection' to surpass looking human ("to go full doll") feels pretty novel, at least to us, especially as a trend.
As we are unapologetic fans of both masterfully applied black eyeliner and of people who appreciate the actual artistry and transformative nature of cosmetics, Miss Lukyanova, our interest is decidedly piqued. (Hi Valeria, Top Shelf? Get at us.) But more importantly, what do you think? Cool or totally creepy? Or are we crazy and you all are painting gigantic fake eyes on your eyelids right now? Because if so, tell us about that.