As we here in America are finally getting a American Girl of the Year who is dark skinned, the UK seems to be witnessing the same phenomenon we struggled with for so many year…no dark skinned dolls in stores.
The BBC has a fine article out here: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-38065205 (Reference only PDF: where-are-the-black-dolls-in-high-street-stores_-bbc-news)
What made me really sad about this article is that I looked up what I know was a best selling black doll in the UK from the dolls house…and she’s gone, the whole website is.
This was Star. Hopefully it’s a glitch on the website and not a farewell (although lack of mention it the BBC article doesn’t leave me super hopeful).
Grace is still available (in several outfits/themes) from My London Girl (yes, she’s a Lotus doll!) as is Jermaine (a boy!)…(click on images for links)
But these ARE mailorder so the in store issue seems to be as real across the pond as it is here. You’ve heard me complain that I can’t find dolls of color at my local Targets but I can if I go to Targets in other areas even ten minutes farther. Our Toys R Us’ are generally better, I think, only because they serve larger populations that the Targets who clearly “target” racially. However, our Walmarts have the same problem.
Is it wrong to target sales racially? Heck yes. If the norm is that only white dolls are seen by kids in stores then there is no normal for children of color to see the world as anything else. It’s time to end that.
My 2017 message for the doll play world is that we’ve fought the battle in equality for boys and girls having access to dolls; it’s time to teach how important dolls of color are no matter what continent you’re on. The new American Girls Gabriela and Melody will help with that (despite their “whitewashed” features) but it’s up to us to support those making the dolls of color with natural, varied skin tones with non-European features if we want to see changes in doll availability and frankly, how our world works.
I’ve made it no secret that I’m disappointed with Mattel for what appears to be a poorly executed copy of so many other of their products with GOTY Gabriela’s line. It’s been nice to read on LADL and my Facebook groups that others share this assessment. Small Dolls in a Big World has a great commentary on the new items as well as an awesome story called Out with the Old, In with the New that is well worth checking out.
This is Kayla from Adora.
Meet Honey, Kayla and Monica from Curly Girls United
These are the Izuki dolls (there are a couple new ones too).
This is Sabrina, a limited edition Lotus doll from Today’s Girl available via Constructive Playthings.
Sabrina is a cloth bodied doll, like American Girl dolls. The others are slim bodied dolls. I have most of these that I bought without endorsement and I appreciate them all. Being a curly girl myself, I am thrilled at the masterful production of the Curly Girls United.
Of course, there are Our Generation dolls from Target: Abrianna, Anaya, Cecee (retro), Hadia, Haven, Maeva, Jewelry Maeva, Meagan, and Nahla who share the original Battat Vanessa face mold. And Nia and Neveah who share a new face mold (first used for Zuri, who may be available in stores but was not listed on Target’s current website).
I also want to give a mini shout out to the Divah Dolls although, good luck finding them (some Targets and Walmarts depending on where you are as well as Amazon). Check out the line at Dollation here.
There are dolls of color in other popular lines such as My Life As and Journey Girls that I’m not mentioning here because well, they’re all the same face mold as their other dolls. (boo)
So…let’s support the movement towards inclusion with our wallets and emails. Let companies know what matters to you.
Here’s to a colorful 2017! Love you, Dollings!
PS: Another thing I do when I see dolls of color on clearance is scoop them up to donate to our local charities. We have plenty of children in need of dollies! Those sales count for manufacturers too.