The Human Barbie

Ukrainian Barbie. If you have not heard of this catchy phrase then let me tell you why it’s been in various media outlets recently.   The Ukrainian Barbie is a woman who is known as the “Human Barbie Doll.” Her name is Valeria Lukyanova and she has been catching medias attention with her extremely tiny waist and her porcelain like face. To make it clear Valeria is not Ukrainian but Capture2in fact she is from Tiraspol, Moldova. The Washington Post  makes a statement that this is another side to Ukraine and as a Ukrainian I must say that this statement gives a false representation of Ukrainian culture. Not all Ukrainians look like barbies and most are much more traditional compared to this Human Barbie. But getting back to Valeria Lukyanova, she does closely resembles a barbie and she is adamant in having a strong self promotion.

If you type in her name, you can see that the western media is loving her in a weird way. She has established her own Wikipedia page, made headlines on E! News, the Washington Post and even in GQ magazine. The Human Barbie has also many followers on her Twitter and YouTube channel.

Valeria has recently made controversial statements in her GQ interview. The reporter had lunch with her in Indian restaurant in Odessa, Ukraine. When questioned about her fake name, Amatue,  and how it is about reincarnation (an Eastern Philosophy.) The interviewer preceded with a statement that Valeria’s beauty  is very Western. “American, even.”  Her reply?

“I wouldn’t say so. Everyone wants a slim figure. Everyone gets breasts done. Everyone fixes up their face if it’s not ideal, you know? Everyone strives for the golden mean. It’s global now.” The reporter replied that the idea of beauty is changing and it is different than what it used to be.

Lukyanova’s replied with “That’s because of the race-mixing. For example, a Russian marries an Armenian,” Valeria elaborates helpfully. “They have a kid, a cute girl, but she has her dad’s nose. She goes and files it down a little, and it’s all good. Ethnicity are mixing now, so there’s degeneration, and it didn’t used to be like that. Remember how many beautiful women there were in the 1950s and 1960s, without any surgery? And now, thanks to degeneration, we have this. I love the Nordic image myself. I have white skin; I am a Nordic type—perhaps a little Eastern Baltic, but closer to Nordic.

Before and After. Image Credit to Valeria’s social networking account.

Valeria does not see just how racist her comments are to other people. I find race-mixing extremely beautiful and exotic. When people come together to share their cultures , it shows that we are accepting and loving towards one another no matter what race you are. Valeria’s comments about race-mixing and degeneration reveals an insecurity that she has towards herself. She uses makeup to cover her natural self and her slightest imperfections.

The Human Barbie makes a point that her image is picking up and that she is going to travel to Turkey for a talk show appearance. When asked if she plans to stay in Ukraine, she replies with “The next step is to cut off Ukraine entirely, because all I get here is shit. Why waste my time on this?”

Human Barbie Meets Ken  Barbie

Human Barbie meets Ken Barbie

Not everyone is a fan of the Human Barbie, especially the American Human Ken; who has had 140 cosmetic procedures to look like Ken. When Ken met Barbie for the first time, he said she looked like a “drag queen” and thinks she’s “illusionist.”

The “Ukrainian” Barbie doesn’t have everyone’s approval regarding her looks; however, she is getting all the publicity she wants and she is very good at promoting herself. She uses  her YouTube channel as a self promotion tool by posting makeup tutorials.  People are so fascinated by her looks that they keep coming back to see how she achieves them.  I think the main reason as to why she is getting so much publicity is because the public is not used to seeing such a huge difference in physical appearance, especially when you look like an icon doll. Plastic surgeries get done everyday but you still do not look like a barbie (unless you have 140 cosmetic procedures.) The Human Barbie might be getting all the publicity she wants right now, but in time, just like with everything, someone or something will take her spot.


Venice of the North

Fotor0424154820Saint Petersburg is located along the Gulf of Finland and is considered to be Russia’s most vibrant city. If you love food, culture, high art, and lavish architecture, then this beautiful city is for you.

Last summer I had an opportunity to study abroad in this relaxing city for over a month, and I must say it was love at first sight. The best time to see this whimsical city in action is during the White Nights (May-July.) During this season the daylight is celebrated nearly round- the -clock because the sun sets for only a few hours. The White Nights Festival has many ballet performances, operas, and The Scarlet Sails Celebration (Алые паруса.)


The Red Room is a masterpiece by French artist Henri Matisse. This artwork is located at the Hermitage.

If you decide to visit, you must bring out your inner art critic and spend some time in the Hermitage and the Russian Museum.  This is your chance to see the world renowned art works by Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh and etc. The Hermitage gets extremely busy, so get there early so you do not have to wait in line for hours.

Quick Fact: Experts say that if you were to spend a minute looking on each art piece at the Hermitage, it would take nearly 11 years to do so.

Walking Down the Nevsky Prospect:

Nevsky Prospect is the main street of the city; many shops, cafes, restaurants and tourist sites are located here. If you only have a day to spend in the city, this is where you should spend your time. On this outrageously long street, there is the Kazan Cathedral, Church of Spilled Blood, Hermitage (Catherine’s Palace,) and more. If you are a literature buff, perhaps you should enjoy a meal at the Literaturnoe Kafe (Literature Café.) This is where Alexander Pushkin enjoyed his many meals and his last one before he died in a dual in 1837. As you take a stroll, you will come across pleasant street artists, beautiful canals and cool bridges. The vibe of this place is very diverse and laid back.

Side Note: If you are wanting more detailed information of the city life and what it has to offer, check out Life in Russia blog!


I love food and I was so excited to taste everything, so of course most of my money went towards delicious meals. If you are

Traditional Russian Donuts

Traditional Russian Donuts in Cafe Pyshechnaya.

looking to try out authentic Russian food for cheap, then Stolovaya (Cafeteria) is your place. This is where the locals go to enjoy many of their meals. There is more than one of these, so it should be easy to spot them. Bakeries are everywhere. My personal favorite is БУШЕ (Bushe.) This bakery is heaven. My  favorite is the smoked salmon sandwich with cream cheese. Yum! The bakery only has 30 minutes Wi-Fi limit; if you are trying to get some work done on your laptop, this place is not for you. On the bright side if you get your treat to go, then your price will be cheaper. Another bakery that you must try is the Cafe Pyshechnaya. This is the oldest cafe/cafeteria and serves the best pishki (Russian donuts.) This place is extremely busy and seating is very limited. Also, the Russian women servers are extremely intimidating and they expect you to know your order right away.  Be prepared! The Guardian writes a review on this cafe and they consider it to be top 10 hidden gems in St Petersburg.

Countryside Trips:

Taking some time off from the city is always nice and there a lot of palaces and parks that offer a relaxing afternoon. Here are some attractions that will revive you.

St Petersburg has much to offer and it does take significant amount of time to explore all the streets, museums, monuments, cathedrals and etc. The vibe of this city is addicting and if you are like me, you will want to come back as soon as possible.

Models roll out on the Runway


Fashion Without Borders

The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (MBFW) Russia made heads turn as some fashion designers decided to break barriers by introducing disabled models onto the catwalk.  The models walked down the runway with a wide range of disabilities; young people who are blind, have Down syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Others were in wheel chairs and even gold medal winners from the Russian Paralympic Team.

“This season Week opens new names in the Russian fashion scene and shows a collection for people with disabilities. This will help make the world a wider and brighter for people with special needs and to reconsider the traditional stereotypes about fashion” – said Jan C. Madeo, General Director of “Mercedes-Benz Russia.” Fashion United


“Undoubtedly, seeing happy faces of people you’ve done work with is always a pleasure! But a much more positive charge given communication itself with guys who do not have some physical abilities, but not devoid of the desire to live, enjoy, and wonder.”said Dima Neu.

"Мода без границ" в рамках недели моды "Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia"

“Apparel for women who use a wheelchair, has its own characteristics: for example, the skirt should be inflated rear waist, be of more dense material to be tailored so as not to fall into the wheel.” –Daria Razumikhina


Dmitriy Neu presents a sporty collection that can be worn by anyone.



Designer Sabina Gorelik makes a fashion statement with her edgy collection.

All of these compelling and powerful photos were taken by Getty Images.

A Brief History of Russian Folk Dress


Snegurochka clashes with a modern look

It can be argued that the Russian traditional costume dress is well recognized around the world. It appears that the country is still holding on to those looks; reminding the world that they still keep their traditional appearance at heart. The most recent example is when beautiful Russian girls accompanied athletes from different nations in the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.  The girls were wearing an interesting headgear, which immediately made everyone turn their attention to them. The headgear was exuding a very traditional Russian look. The ladies were specifically representing Snegurochka, also known as a “snow girl.”

“According to the legend the old man and woman who made her from snow used two deep blue beads for eyes, made two dimples in her cheeks, and used a piece of red ribbon for her mouth. Snegurochka was very beautiful, but when she came to life, she was even better. Snegurochka is often depicted with snow white skin, deep sky-blue eyes, cherry lips and curly fair hair. Originally Snegurochka wore only white garments and a crown, decorated with silver and pearls. Her present day costume is blue, red, white or silver and her crown is sometimes replaced by an embroidered cap with fur edging. She is probably one of the most attractive female characters in Russian culture.” (Russiapedia) 

This look highly resembles the traditional Russian costume the “sarafan” which became popular in the 18th century. This was not always considered to be Russian, in fact the look and the word itself came from Persia. The folk dress was mostly worn by peasant women who wanted to still be fashionable like the nobility class.


Peasant women wearing sarafan

The sarafan was brought to Russia byPeter the Great, who had a great impact on Russian everyday life. The ruler is considered by many the first fashion icon in Russia. Peter I created strict regulations on dress code because he had a strong desire to be more Western European. The nobility were obligated to follow the Western European fashion and eventually the fashion trends became the norm for the Russian society. Today you will still see these fashion trends in Russia because it is part of their culture, which cannot be forgotten.

Russian fashion history is extremely fascinating and it is important to see the gradual changes throughout centuries. I hope this post gives you some insight into Russian folk costumes because my next post will focus on how Russia is developing in the Fashion world.

Drinking and smoking… is Russia changing its “stereotypical” ways? to fight alcoholism and cigarette smoking in major cities, Russia has finally decided to make changes that will prevent people from smoking on the streets and buying alcohol during specific hours. Will these new laws be effective? Nobody knows. In fact, some say that the new laws will backfire, in a sense that illegal purchase of booze will be on a rise.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that early in 2013, St. Petersburg passed a new law that prevents alcohol to be purchased between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. The time frame was changed a few times, but in the end the lawmakers went with their first choice. Street markets, railway stations, and local shops that are close to hospitals and schools are also taking a hit to this new law. The new law prevents these areas and shops to sell alcohol altogether. Some suggest that the new law should be just the regulation of the price after a certain time. The authorities have also been cracking down on smoking.

Last year the Russian authorities decided that they should regulate smoking in public places. The bill was passed and now the cities9453543 are forced to implement the new law. If a person is caught smoking in a public place, they will be fined 1,000 to 1,500 rubles ($31-$47). If you smoke around or at playgrounds, the fine rises to 2,000 to 3,000 rubles ($63-$94). And don’t you dare encourage a minor to smoke, because then you’ll get fined 2,000 rubles ($63). Well, unless you’re a parent or a guardian who encourage you to smoke, the fine rises to 3,500 rubles ($110).

This new anti-smoking legislature also has an effect on TV productions. Characters in shows and films are no longer allowed to smoke on screen unless they can prove the cigarettes are fake and if the show was produced before 2013. So how do the people of Russia feel about these new legislatures?  Before we hear from them, let Prime Minister Medvedev speak.

“Over 80 percent of our citizens, including two-thirds of regular smokers, support the fight against smoking. Let’s free our country from tobacco addiction together.”

Last summer I had the chance to actually see these laws being carried out in St. Petersburg. Or were they? When the anti-tobacco403x296_226580_russia-bans-smoking-in-a-variety-o law got enacted, there wasn’t much of a difference on the streets. In fact, the people who were breaking these new laws were policemen. The cops were smoking on the streets like they hadn’t even heard about the new law.

When it comes to alcohol, one of my friends had an encounter with a Russian cop. As a group we thought, “Hey, what Russian activity can we do to kill some time? Drinking out in public sounded pretty exciting.” So we decided to take it easy and drink in the Palace Square.  As we passed around a beer, a cop started walking towards us. Barely able to speak any Russian, Andrew was on his turn with the beer when the cop called out to him in Russian. Poor fellow. Andrew had no clue what he was saying, but a couple of us knew what he was saying. You’re not allowed to drink in public. Luckily, Andrew did not get fined. How were we supposed to know about the new law? After all, it is Russia.

So, Russia is changing their way of thinking. Good for them, let’s hope gay rights are next.

Dogs Suffer in Sochi



Early this week, Fox News reported that Russian officials have been killing stray dogs in mass numbers before the Olympics start. Apparently, Sochi has been having issues with stray dogs coming around construction sites begging for food or shelter. The pest control companies are hesitant to confirm on which method they have used to kill the innocent strays.  They claim that the dogs are a danger to the local community and especially young children.

The Russian officials and the pest companies are quick to point out that if this issue does not get resolved before the opening ceremony, then it will be detrimental to their reputation. Alexei Sorokin said that when a dog runs into a stadium, they take it away immediately.  Sorokin stated that “God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony. This will be a disgrace for the whole country.”

He says that creating shelters should be considered, however, it is too much of an effort and not very practical. Additionally, he is not comfortable in sharing the numbers of dogs that get killed each year. This insinuates that the number is pretty high. Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that a Russian billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska has been frantically building up shelters outside of Sochi in order to save  stray dogs.  Unlike in many underdeveloped countries,  the issue of animal abuse and abandonment is taken seriously in the US. This is a major reason why the media is highlighting this story.

Last summer I studied abroad in Saint Petersburg, Russia and there, I discovered many cultural differences compared to our own.1000176_10201407539219165_840560285_n On our university campus I came across a stray dog, who looked sad and had some stuff in his eyes. Everyone told me to keep away from him but being a dog lover, I simply could not resist. As I approached him, I saw kindness in his eyes and made a decision to pat him. I took a Kleenex and wiped his eyes clean. He was a sweetheart, who did not have a home. I also came across a group of German Shepherds but they were not approachable. They kept their distance from people while navigating the city streets. My experience showed me that stray dogs in Russia are not dangerous or vicious like the Russian authorities claim they are.

Posted by Irina Franz