Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova has found fame as the real-life Barbie — though she claims her doll-like appearance is natural.
Also known as the Human Barbie, Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova looks like she's undergone numerous surgeries to construct her surreal appearance. Yet she claims she's only had one procedure done — a breast enhancement.
While Lukyanova's strange look might be the first thing you notice about her, her worldview is even more bizarre. If the eyes really are a window to the soul, Lukyanova's doll-like peepers serve as a portal to a spirit whose "teachings" include "out-of-body" travel and reincarnation.
Though her unusual beliefs could easily drag you down a rabbit hole, Lukyanova's Barbie-esque appearance remains the source of her mystique. How did she decide on such an extreme transformation? How much did it cost her — and how does the real-life Barbie explain her mystical beliefs? Let's find out.
Who Is Valeria Lukyanova?
Born Valeria Valeryevna Lukyanova on Aug. 23, 1985, she initially seemed far from becoming a real-life Barbie. From Tiraspol, Moldova, as an adolescent Lukyanova opted for a goth look that matched the gloomy realities of her city — a Soviet remnant and Europe's poorest country.
She rebelled against her Siberian-born grandfather and father at 13 by dyeing her hair and wearing all-black. Bullied and called a witch, Lukyanova opted to lean into her appearance rather than pull back. Perhaps an early sign of body modifications to come, she got artificial fangs and bracelets with two-inch spikes.
Lukyanova began modeling at 16. She quickly sharpened her hair-and-makeup skills and has always claimed her looks were never intended to attract men. In fact, she once accidentally (or intentionally) cut someone with her bracelet spike when he tried to hold her hand.
"A dude would try to talk to me on the street," she said in an interview with GQ, switching to a deep voice, "and I'd be like, 'Oh honey, aren't I glad I had that operation.'"
She moved to Ukraine's port city of Odessa, where sex and "marriage agencies" devoted to finding the perfect wife for Western husbands are huge industries. Ukrainian feminist Anna Hutsol told GQ that it makes perfect sense that Lukyanova's urge for transformation began here.
"It has everything to do with the desperate desire to get married," she said. "A woman here is brought up for two things, marriage, and motherhood. Valeria is the ultimate demonstration of what a Ukrainian woman is willing to do to herself. I bet she is exactly what men dream about."
However, despite her stylized and artificial appearance, Lukyanova strongly dislikes the Barbie monicker, arguing that she is just "a classy girl."
The Human Barbie's Body
The only surgery Lukyanova will admit to is breast augmentation, which she got after dying her hair platinum blonde and meeting a construction magnate named Dmitry. As her foray into social media influencer status began, so did a noticeable transformation — likely involving additional surgeries.
However, because she denies having had any other procedures, we have no idea how much her Barbie-like body might have cost.
The now-35-year-old claims that her one-and-a-half-hour-long makeup routine sculpts her doll-like face. But plastic surgeon Dr. Sam Rizk is confident Lukyanova has had several surgeries, from rhinoplasty to body contouring to reduce her waist size.
According to him, her intensive makeup regimen and special contact lenses could accomplish the rest of her appearance without invasive operation.
By contrast, she met the "human Ken doll" on a TV show in February 2013. Male model Justin Jedlica has spent over $800,000 on about 780 cosmetic procedures — something Lukyanova claimed was too extreme. After all, she maintains her body is largely natural.
"We all have changed since childhood," she said in a rare TV interview with E! News. "From the age of 14 years, I have not particularly changed, except for body and hair color."
Though this real-life Barbie used to be adamant that she didn't use Photoshop to digitally alter her appearance, Lukyanova has since admitted to editing her images in order to "achieve smoothness."
"Everyone wants a slim figure," she said. "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."
This takes us to the Human Barbie's idea of beauty — and what else that might entail.
Valeria Lukyanova's Bizarre Beliefs
While Lukyanova is known for her looks, she espouses some rather controversial views on what she calls "race-mixing." Lukyanova said that the modern increase in interracial relationships has made subsequent generations uglier.
"Ethnicities are mixing now, so there's degeneration, and it didn't use to be like that," she said. "Remember how many beautiful women there were in the 1950s and 1960s, without surgery? And now, thanks to degeneration, we have this. I love the Nordic image myself. I have white skin."
Despite her views on global reproductive trends, Lukyanova is starkly against having children herself.
"It's unacceptable to me," she said. "The very idea of having children brings out this deep revulsion in me. Most people have children to fulfill their own ambitions, not to give anything. They don't think about what they can give this child, what they can teach her...I'd rather die from torture."
Lukyanova has certainly amassed an intriguing repertoire of things to teach — from painting her nails in fractal patterns she claims came into her dreams from "the 21st dimension" and calling herself Amatue, to a breatharian diet that consists solely of sunlight and air.
Most recently, however, she's stated how "degrading" she finds her nickname, that she eats a fruit and vegetable-heavy diet, and is a successful autodidact who's been unfairly maligned. In the end, however, it's all about her unusual, real-life Barbie looks.
"Those who are unsatisfied with what I do and critique me and offend me clearly don't have the same figure as I do," she said. "Otherwise they would not be so negative. They are openly jealous."