In 2015, model Mala Brayan launched Mallavile – her collection of Afro-Caribbean dolls that come in a variety of brown skin tones and hair textures. Now she has created an albino doll to add to her collection. Each of these doll personalities has a career and a story of its own. Her aim was to create as many relatable dolls as possible. This way children could learn to acknowledge and appreciate the various forms of human diversity from a very young age.
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Growing up, those of us fortunate to have dolls spend the better part of that childhood playing with those dolls. Those who took a keen interest in those dolls developed a level of attachment that was considered healthy at that age. Those dolls were as much companions to us as they were toys. We later outgrew them and tossed them aside. However, those dolls impacted our lives in one way or another.
As children, dolls are among the first things we interacted with. We brushed their long silky hair and wonder why our hair did not resemble the doll’s hair. Most of these dolls came with dream houses, cars and were complete with their perfect boyfriends. Those dolls were society’s idea of perfection. All we wanted was to grow up to be like them.
A person’s mind is most vulnerable during their childhood. At this young age, the information we absorb is vital in shaping our opinions throughout our childhood. Having dolls that look like us play a vital role in developing a healthy self-image and personal worth. From a very young age, one is able to acknowledge and appreciate their appearance as they are without having to feel inferior for one reason or another.
Early last year, Barbie – a fashionable doll manufacturing company located in America, introduced a new range of taller, petite and curvier body types to diversify their existing range of toys. This was to encourage children to acknowledge and appreciate all body types without discrimination or malice.
According to the Parents website, ‘When parents give a child a doll that looks like her they are saying, there are people like you in the world and you matter just like everyone else. This affirms the child that he or she is not alone in the world. This goes a long way in providing a sense of belonging to a child. This allows the child to relate and find beauty in their appearance.”
Safaa Bokhari, a Muslim woman living in the United States of America, said that it has not been easy practising her religious faith. This has been due to the harassment she endures for wearing her scarf on her head. She says people are not always receptive to her way of life. To ensure that children acknowledge the Muslim religion, she is teaming up with a community organization to put scarves on dolls. This way, Muslim children can learn the importance of that culture at a young age. It will also go a long way in teaching the children to appreciate and love their way of life at a very tender age.
We are living in a world that has different opinions on what qualifies as beauty. The detrimental effect of these beauty standards has significant effects in the long run. If young children stand in contrast to what society may deem beautiful, they may grow up finding it difficult to accept themselves. Owning dolls that resemble themselves allows them to relate to their self-image in a way that affirms positivity in their lives. It has become increasingly important that our children learn to relate to themselves in a way that helps them appreciate and love themselves as they are. This positive affirmation reduces the chances of developing deep-rooted esteem issues that may affect our adult life. Here are 11 Beautiful Black Dolls Beyond Barbie and Doc McStuffins.