I’ve been shopping for Little Champ’s birthday (he turns one next month!), and today started looking at baby dolls.
A doll? For a boy? What on earth could I be thinking?
Okay, I understand. Gender roles. Tradition. That sort of thing.
I am pretty traditional. I dress my son in boy clothes and will probably never buy him something that is pink. I’m a stay at home mom who works occasionally from home. My husband is the sole bread winner. I might even HOMESCHOOL OUR CHILDREN.
There, I can be labeled “traditional.” Now we can move on.
But first: FLASHBACK
I grew up as a tomboy. My best friend at 3 years old became my frenemy when he said that I couldn’t play with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or G.I. Joe figures. I wanted to wield Raphael’s wickedly awesome sai.
But no. I had to be April.
Hooray. I can hold a camcorder until the bad guys drag me, the victim, off until I am rescued by a turtle that can’t even be my boyfriend.
(You bet I smacked the Foot clan with that suitcase a few times, though.)
(Also, ironically, my hair looks a lot like that now, and yellow is my favorite color. Coincidence? I sure hope so.)
I also got really upset when my cousin got a train one year for Christmas. He didn’t even want one. I had been asking for a train set for YEARS.
Enough with the FLASHBACKS.
Anyway, the point is that I grew up as a girl who liked playing with toys that were usually labelled “masculine.” Now, in today’s society, it’s perfectly acceptable to be considered a Tomboy.
But being a momma’s boy is something entirely different.
Now, I’m all for men and boys being masculine. I think every teenage boy should read Wild at Heart. And no, I don’t want my son wearing dresses, unless we are going to a Scottish wedding or reenacting Braveheart in our backyard. (Either is possible in our family). And that’s not a dress, it’s a kilt.
We are going to buy Little Champ a set of play tools and maybe a mini workbench. But what if we decide to give him a play kitchen? LT loves to cook, and he’s 100% manufactured masculine.
Here’s the bottom line about giving my son a doll. In two parts.
1—I can’t think of a better way to involve our son in our next pregnancy (when it happens) and the infancy of our next child than by giving him his own baby to take care of.
2—There is a serious shortage of fathers in this society. We encourage girls to practice being moms; I think now more than ever we need to encourage boys to play the role of father so that they don’t bail out after insemination.
But that isn’t all. I didn’t want to just find Little Champ a doll. I wanted to find him a BOY doll that wasn’t WHITE. Because I happen to think that children should grow up with the belief that all shades of skin, hair, and eyes are equally beautiful and good.
You can imagine how impossible that endeavor was. But imagine no more! I will show you!
See, I have an investigative mind. When I notice that most of the dolls being sold are white, girl babies with blonde hair and blue eyes, I don’t just put a pin in that and move on. I get slightly obsessed. I ask questions, like:
Why are dolls overwhelmingly female?
And overwhelmingly pink?
And overwhelmingly white?
And overwhelmingly blonde?
Am I the only person this bothers? We wonder why girls have so many self-image issues, even at young ages. But this goes beyond Barbie. Even as toddlers, our children are taught that the best and most desirable features are white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes.
That doesn’t sound familiar at all.
How many girls think that they have to have blonde hair or blue eyes to be pretty? How many women dye their hair blonde for this very reason?
But more importantly, how many children think that white skin is better than any other color of skin?
There was a study done in the 1950s which illustrated black children’s preference for white over black, using dolls as an example. The study was a part of Brown v. Board, the court case which led to the desegregation of schools.
But we’ve come a long way in sixty years. Or have we?
Take two minutes to watch this video, made by a student a couple of years ago.
Perhaps the worst thing is that marketers not only profit over racial preference in dolls, but they also perpetuate them.
Let me show you what I found when looking for baby dolls on Amazon.com.
Here’s an illustration of hair and eye color for the first 40 results:
Eye color was either blue or brown, or black (as in, two dots for eyes). The ones without hair either had hats on, or the hair was painted blonde on the top of the head. The “Asian” baby had squinted eyes.
Granted, most babies are born with blue or brown eyes. If they are blue at birth, they often change color around the 6-month mark to their adult color. But most of the “baby dolls” that popped up in the search would be at least 6 months to 2 years, and the ones with blonde hair had long, flowing golden locks that no earthly baby would be able to produce without extensions.
And here’s an illustration of the first 100 results.
Result #38 was a “tan” boy. Results #41 and #62 were Asian girls; #60 and #96 were Hispanic girls; and #66, #82, #88, and #93 were African-American girls.
I conducted this search on August 9th, 2011. I hope that if/when you go shopping for dolls, the results will be different.
But either way, there is hope!
One of my Facebook friends, upon reading my frustration regarding the doll search, suggested looking on Etsy. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that in the first place, since Etsy is MY FAVORITE WEBSITE OF ALL TIME.
And? I struck a goldmine.
Her name is Rachelle, and she is very sweet. Her shop: Sunclover’s Creations.
She makes THE CUTEST DOLLS EVER. Best part? You can buy a pre-made doll or customize your own for the same price. Seriously, check these out:
I mean, come on. How can I NOT order one of these for Little Champ? Every single doll is unique, and soft, and cuddly. I want one of every skin color and one of each hair color. And I want a boy and a girl of each, too! Okay, maybe that’s a little overkill, but I am pretty sure I will have to at least get each one of our children his or her own baby doll from her.
I’m not ordering one yet. Little Champ’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so I got distracted while looking for birthday presents on Amazon. But you can bet it will be our first purchase (not counting the pregnancy test) we make when we find out that baby #2 is on his or her way. Don’t hold your breath, it will be a while yet, but I think it’s safe to say there is a twinkle in our eyes :)
P.S. Want to know what other dolls I was considering or thought were cute? Here are my favorites of Amazon’s Dolls, organized by gender and represented age.
Click on the image to see price (if still available)