This subject has been heavy on my heart for some time now. I’ve battle with it when I was younger and now I see the same issues are still around today. What am I talking about? Dolls that look like me, like my children. The doll industry has come a long way. I remember when my parents took me to ToysrUs for my birthday at Green Acres Mall located in New York. The plan was for me to select a large doll (about toddler sized) that had hair so I can learn to braid. The trip was a disappointing one. All the dolls that were supposedly marketed for girls of color were very ugly with BRIGHT pink lips. The selection was just a few. My parents saw how disappointed I was but, what could they do? They purchased a Caucasian doll. I loved her like no other. Her hair matted quickly and the texture changed from a silky texture to a dry coily texture. At 9 years old I was so happy for her to have hair like me. I called her my albino baby. You couldn’t tell me that she wasn’t my baby doll! She was the doll I used to learn how to do 2-strand twist, cornrows, 3-strand braids, and more.
As my children grow up, I see that we have finally advanced to have the first Disney Princess of color. Before then I was a bit worried, especially when my oldest daughter would put a towel on her head and say she was a princess. The towel represented her long flowing hair. I tried to convince her that she could be a beautiful princess with the hair that God gave her. She was not convinced. Books didn’t do it, online photos didn’t do it, but there was something that must have clicked after she saw Princess Tiana. She hasn’t done the towel thingy since.
Unfortunately, it goes beyond Disney with Princess Tiana. When she first came out it was hard to find a Princess Tiana doll. I don’t think the industry thought she’d sell as fast as she did. My oldest daughter is slowing coming out of the baby doll phase and going into the dolls that have hair that she can comb and braid. We’ve visited stores such as ToysrUs, Wal-mart, Target and have been disappointed. Even now in this day in age, the brown dolls are usually not at a child’s eye level. Though there are brown dolls for her to chose from (more than they did in the 70’s and 80’s) I have to purchase them online. When at a local Target, I asked why I couldn’t find ethnic versions of various dolls. I was told they they have nothing to do with the selection. The companies send them an assortment of dolls. So, I figured an assortment would be dolls of various ethnicities, right? WRONG!! The assortment are the same dolls in different clothes. WHAT? We should be able to walk in a store and find Asian, Hispanic, African-American dolls just as easily as we can find Caucasian dolls. I feel like Dr. Kenneth Clarke’s doll experiment was all in vain. We should have dolls in various colors and hair textures readily available IN STORES.
For example, we were looking for the Our Generation Sally or Abrianna dolls. The representative in the store told me that there weren’t any brown dolls in the Our Generation series since that particular Target has never sold either doll. So again, why do I have to go online to purchase the doll? I even tried to find the Best Friends Club dolls. No luck find any of them in-store. I was told that they do sell them but not in large quantities.:
I love how Calista’s hair is coily and best of all they are diverse!
Check out Yuko! The dolls are poseable, come with a journal book and a membership card. You can also purchase additional clothes for them:
Hearts 4 Hearts sold by Target. A portion of the proceeds go toward helping a child in the country that the doll represents. How cool is that?
Now, let move on to American Girl. The child is supposed to be able to create a doll that looks like them. All the dolls have straight hair? No coils? Not even a doll with gasps…locs?
I’m not alone in my plight. Here is an open letter to American Girl from another fellow blogger: