Justin Jedlica, dubbed by the media as the "Human Ken Doll" recently gave an interview to The Daily Beast and, surprisingly, it's actually not the worst. In fact, Jedlica actually offers some interesting insights into his motivation, background and, of course, his female counterpart, the Human Barbie Doll.
"I hate that people compare us, because she's putting on the illusion of a mannequin," Jedlica tells The Daily Beast's Erin Cunningham when she asks him about Valeriya Lukyanova, the Ukrainian model who's achieved international notoriety for her surgically altered, Barbie-like appearance and, more recently, her bigoted thoughts on race-mixing.
Jedlica, who has spoken to Lukyanova both in person and on Facebook, says that she has greatly over-exaggerated the extremes to which she's altered her appearance.
"She knows how to do her make-up like stage make-up and give herself different features," he explains. "The same techniques are used in theatre all the time and with drag queens. I'm not saying she's a drag queen, but it's something completely different from me."
(He also, quite fairly, has a pretty big problem with Lukyanova's racism.)
Jedlica has had 149 cosmetic procedures, 19 of which were full-on surgeries. He first wanted plastic surgery at 17, but his parents refused to give their consent, so he waited a year and, at 18-years-old, paid for his own nose job.
Growing up with very little money, he explains that, to him, plastic surgery has always seemed like a sign of status and luxury:
I used to watch Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and it was just this notion in my brain that I wanted so badly to have luxury in my life. I wanted fame—but what kid doesn't? My view of the world was very tiny, and the only thing I was being fed on pop culture-wise was what I internalized—that trendy, over-stylized, Michael Jackson look. So inherently, I wanted to emulate that. And I thought—just like most people say—that if I looked the part, maybe one day I could be like that person or status group.
And somehow, the universe brought it around, but in a very strange way. What happened was, [plastic surgery] was the one thing I did that I felt like I could tangibly grasp onto. I knew it was something I wanted to do because to me, it was something that rich people did. It was a status symbol that said 'I've arrived and I've earned this.'
While it's the "Human Ken Doll" moniker — given to him by 20/20 — that made him relatively famous, Jedlica says that he's never tried to emulate Ken.
"I would say more of my inspiration stems from 'manga 'or anime. I find that much more appealing in all honestly than a Ken doll." he tells The Daily Beast, adding that people — riffing off the whole Ken doll thing — will often harass him online and ask stuff like "Does that mean you want to cut off your penis?"
"I'm like actually, I wish it was dragging on the ground like anime," he responds humorously.
As for his end goal, Jedlica admits that he would like to parlay his appearance into a career in entertainment:
"I like the attention. People know me as 'The Human Ken Doll,' and that's sort of a window in. I mean, why wouldn't I ride on the coattails of that story for a while? A reality show would be cool, although that's a bit more centric on me than I need, but I need to tell my story. Because right now, all people get are the freak-a-zoid stats of things. Most people go, 'Oh [he has] body dysmorphic disorder or OCD,' but it's actually…"
Despite being diagnosed by a TV psychologist on Bethenny (an iron-clad assessment, I know), Jedlica does not think he has body dysmorphic disorder and, to his credit, he does come off as a fairly self aware person throughout the interview:
My view of myself is very realistic. I think I'm blessed to have the body I have, and [plastic surgery] has just become something that's fun and cool. It's a way for me to express myself, and at this point, obviously there's an additional kickback from the media and I can pay for the surgeries now by selling my stories because people are interested. I like the attention that stems from it. I look how my body looks.
I don't have a misrepresentation in my head of what I look like. I didn't do my surgery to blend in; I didn't do it to look like anyone else or to fit in with anybody else. To the contrary, I did it to look exceptional in my mind. I wanted to have a look that was very unmistakable. And whether or not other people agree with it, it doesn't matter, because I did my surgeries for me.
Jedlica feels that, if anything, he's stretching our perceptions of what it means to be beautiful. "Why is western culture the only correct perception of beauty?" he asks. "That's just ridiculous...There seems to be this overwhelming idea that you should be happy with what God gave you or what you were born with. There's this weird stigma around allowing yourself to feel ownership over your own body and really take charge of how people view it. I don't understand that at all."
Image via Justin Jedlica's Facebook.