The Bizarre Story Behind The Real-Life Barbie And Ken — And Why They Became Dolls

Published January 8, 2022
Updated November 7, 2023

Valeria Lukyanova and Justin Jedlica have spent untold dollars to look like real-life Ken and Barbie dolls — and they've caused plenty of controversy along the way.

Like it or not, Barbie and Ken’s exaggerated proportions have shaped popular conceptions of physical beauty for decades. This has led some to go to extreme lengths to turn themselves into human dolls — or even the real-life Barbie and Ken. Two such people are Valeria Lukyanova and Justin Jedlica.

Valeria By The Pool
Human Barbie In Flowers
Fall Barbie Look
Valeria Staircase
The Bizarre Story Behind The Real-Life Barbie And Ken — And Why They Became Dolls
View Gallery

Though they're famous for looking like the doll couple, they're far from the picture-perfect pair In fact, with their opposing personalities, the real-life Ken and Barbie actually have an ongoing feud.

The Human Barbie: Valeria Lukyanova

The woman who the press has dubbed the "human Barbie" was born on August 23, 1985, in Tiraspol, Moldova — a mostly forgotten remnant of the Soviet Union. Valeria Lukyanova is currently a Ukrainian model and uses her appearance to promote her ideas about spirituality and mysticism.

Valeria may resemble a doll more than an actual human, but she claims she never set out to look like the iconic blonde Barbie. Instead, she simply wants to look beautiful, feminine, and refined. It just so happens that's the image that dolls are made in, too. However, she admits to loving Barbie as a child.

You may think that plastic surgery and cosmetic enhancement are a large part of Valeria's signature look, but she claims to have only had breast augmentation. She rails against people who spread rumors that she's had her ribs removed in order to achieve her impossibly tiny waistline.

Valeria Lukyanova The Human Barbie

Valeria Lukyanova/FacebookValeria Lukyanova, the human Barbie.

She once said her goal was to become a breatharian and exist on air and sunlight alone. (It must be said here that no one should actually attempt this. You'll die.)

Valeria also believes in astral projection and claims she is actually an alien being herself. Once, she said in a VICE documentary that she was a famous king and a spiritual teacher in a past life.

Valeria Lukyanova is definitely a polarizing character. She also came under fire recently for some comments she made regarding people who are mixed race.

In a GQ interview, Valeria commented on changing beauty standards. "For example, a Russian marries an Armenian," she says. "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. Ethnicities 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."

She also says that she is against feminism and does not want children. "Most people have children to fulfill their own ambitions, not to give anything," she said. "They don't think about what they can give this child, what they can teach her. They just try to shape her according to some weird script — whatever they couldn't do in life."

The Human Ken Doll: Justin Jedlica

Justin Jedlica is from Poughkeepsie, New York, and was born on August 11, 1980. He has been dubbed the "human Ken doll," and he says that it's a flattering title, though being Ken was not his intent.

Justin is what some call a "plastic-surgery enthusiast." He has had rhinoplasty, chest, bicep, tricep and shoulder implants, brow lifts, cheek augmentations, subpectoral implants, gluteoplasty, and lip augmentations.

Justin Jedlica The Human Ken Doll

Justin Jedlica/FacebookJustin Jedlica, aka the human Ken doll.

So far, the real-life Ken doll estimates having 780 cosmetic procedures, spending over $800,000. And it doesn't sound like he's stopping anytime soon.

Becoming what he sees as the best version of himself happens to be the trim chiseled look that is the hallmark of the Ken doll. But Justin considers his quest an art form and insists that there's something deeper to his transformation than people believe.

He said, "In some respects, people assume that this is like the pursuit of perfection... that Ken is the optimal form of how a male should look, right? And it all sort of revolves around looks and superficiality. I think that title, is typically what people take away from it. But, I wouldn't say that is something I strived for in my life."

Needless to say, there will always be trolls, like people who ask if he is an anatomical match with Ken in terms of his famously non-existent genitals. In response, Justin says, "Actually, I wish it was dragging on the ground like anime."

"I don't have a problem using myself as the guinea pig," he said. "When I go into doctors, I don't say I go in for consultations anymore, because really I go in to pitch."

Sadly, tragedy befell Justin's family in 2019 when his brother, Jordan Jedlica, 32, died in prison. He was serving a 19-month sentence for breaking and entering. Authorities found him unresponsive in his cell and he later died. The family thinks foul play is involved.

Justin Jedlica is using his national profile to attract attention to his brother's case. "This is my baby brother," he said. "I'm the oldest of all of our siblings. I feel like this was my kid."

The Real-Life Barbie And Ken Feud

Valeria Lukyanova and Justin Jedlica met in February 2013 for a TV appearance and sparks flew — enough to start a fiery feud, that is.

The human Ken doll blasted Valeria, saying that she "presents herself as a real-life Barbie doll, but she is nothing more than an illusion who dresses like a drag queen."

Prior to meeting her, Justin Jedlica said that he appreciated that Valeria was beautiful, but added, "It appears to me that much of her look is added makeup, fake hair, and "slimming" corsets... as soon as you wipe away all that makeup she's just a plain Jane."

For her part, Valeria Lukyanova says, "He would do better not to comment on who is plastic and who is not. I think he is a handsome man — but he overdid his lips."

The competition runs hot in the doll world, so all involved must be careful not to get burned — so they don't melt away.

Fascinated by these real-life Barbie and Ken dolls? Then check out our other posts on extreme female body modification and the most beautiful works of body art.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.
Citation copied
Cite This Article
Kelly, Erin. "The Bizarre Story Behind The Real-Life Barbie And Ken — And Why They Became Dolls.", January 8, 2022, Accessed May 25, 2024.