(Courtesy of V Magazine)She's been called the human Barbie. Valeria Lukyanova, the Russian model that appears to shaped by Mattel, claims she's "endowed by nature with extraordinary external data."
Meet the Human Barbie
But nature isn't that mysterious, according to plastic surgery experts and websites debunking Lukyanova's all-natural claims.
"This girl is a fraud," writes an anonymous user on the website, TheDirty.com. "She had been badly Photoshopping her photos since the beginning of her time online."
The unverified claim goes on to compare Valeria's YouTube videos, which have been viewed by well over 4 million, with her recent photo shoot for V Magazine. In the photo shoot she looks more plastic than in a recent video where Valeria talks about the fragility of her tiny neck. (Those are the kinds of topics a real doll tackles.)
Other websites have posted alleged old photos of the viral star looking "normal and healthy," with fuller cheeks and rounder eyes, raising questions about the role of plastic surgery in her transformation.
Considered a pioneer in the so-called "living doll" movement--a YouTube-based beauty trend popularized in recent months--Valeria claims her haunting facial features are a product of skilled make-up artistry. Surprising at it sounds, we've come a long way since false eyelashes. (See YouTube chameleon Promise Phan for proof.) V magazine, which contacted the Valeria through an anonymous Ukrainian source, claims that Valeria's doll-shaped eyes are enhanced "through makeup tricks and contact lenses."
Incredible make-up transformations
"Judging from the available photos and especially from the video of the make-up transformation, most likely Valeria has not had any significant plastic surgery on her face," Dr. Boris Ackerman, a California-based Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who has not treated the model, tells Yahoo! Shine. "She might have had some lip injections, but the remarkable Barbie like appearance of her face is due to theatrical make up application and facial muscle training to achieve the "Barbie" appearance."
Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, Leading Facial Plastic Surgeon and Professor at Boston University, has a different opion. He wouldn't be surprised if Valeria had cosmetic surgery on her nose, as well as cheek implants and jaw narrowing.
The Ukraine's disturbing "Barbie" trend
"I have had requests from patients to have features of their face look like Barbie," says Spiegel, who has not treated Valeria. "They ask to have their nose, lips and jaw done to resemble the doll."
Valeria's home-made video, minus the doll eyes. (Youtube)Both Speigel and Ackerman believe the living doll had some work on her body to acheive her shocking proportions. "She is so slender that her breasts are unlikely to be natural," Spiegel tells Shine. "She may well of had breast augmentation or rib removal to get her narrow waist line."
But Valeria fiercely denies having had plastic surgery. As for the retouching claims, Ackerman isn't surprised. "Some of the photos are obviously image manipulated/fake," he says.
V Magazine didn't respond to Yahoo! Shine's request for comment and they have not confirmed whether Valeria's photos were retouched. It wouldn't be too shocking if they were. You don't have to aspire to Barbie to merit polishing in post-production. Retouching is so common in magazine spreads that issues without retouching actually make headlines.
In her interview with the magazine, for their "Girl Power" issue (really!) Valeria shrugs off claims of surgery and retouching.
"Many people say bad things about people who want to perfect themselves," she says. "It's hard work, but they dismiss it as something done by surgeons or computer artists. This is how they justify not wanting to strive for self-improvement. It's how they explain their continued inaction. It's just an excuse."
The fetish to become a "Human Barbie" dates back to the early, cruder days of plastic surgery, when infatuations with the iconic doll lent themselves to episodes of Sally Jesse Raphael and televised investigations into body dysmorphia.
With Valerie serving as today's model for a strange, disconnected version of beauty, the human Barbie has become more life-like for a doll and less life-like for a person.
Valeria admits to V Magazine, she "plays along with people's perceptions."
Her website, a shrine to her obsession with new age music and "astral projection, reveals a pre-occupation with her Barbie-like alter-ego (she's named her Amatue) that goes beyond the pursuit of outer-beauty.
In a recent blog post, written in Russian, she hints at the dual personalities she struggles with being both doll and human.
"I sometimes think that our collaboration has exhausted itself, and I have to let her go," she writes. "I don't want to do it. I feel incredibly sad. She's the only one who's been with me all this time and has not left me but I feel that she will soon go away."
It's unclear if she's referring to retiring her "living doll" alter ego, or the reverse. Perhaps her outer-doll has muscled out her inner-human. What's clear is that surgical or digital explanations are not enough to encompass Valeria's curious condition.