All Articles Tagged "dolls"

Should We Let Our Black Daughters Play With White Dolls?

May 27th, 2015 - By Rich
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A few weeks ago, I was standing in line at Walmart when I noticed that a little Black girl behind me was cradling a White Barbie doll to purchase. After I sparked a conversation with her dad, she raised the little blonde-headed, bright-eyed figure up in the air for me to see. “Aww, how cute!” I told her. Then, jokingly to her dad, I said, “They didn’t have any Black dolls stocked on the shelves today, huh?”

“Oh, that’s just the one she picked out,” he replied.

Noticing the disapproving look on my face, he added, “She has plenty of Black toys at home though.” I just nodded my head in response. The fact that he said his daughter had Black dolls at home put me more at ease, but in all honesty, I think there’s a major problem with Black children maintaining a toy collection that doesn’t reflect their own skin tones and beauty, especially young girls. Now, I’m not saying that non-Black dolls should be completely off limits for your little ones, but when it boils down to it, the bulk of those babies should be brown like sugar and black like molasses.

Growing up, I recall having an assortment of Barbies and other doll figures. And to my recollection, they were pretty much all Black (I really can’t remember ever owning any White dolls). My mom made sure she took me to stores where Black toys were sold so that I would be exposed to, and play with, figures that looked like me. Because whether you realize it or not parents, little things like the toys that your children play with, have a major impact on their self-image.

And when it comes to little girls and their precious baby dolls, that influence is even more dynamic.

Just think about it. When you were a little girl, didn’t you cherish your baby dolls like they were rare gems never again to be sold? Didn’t you pretend you were little Barbie, Jessy or Jen and live vicariously through them? So tell me what’s wrong with a Black, curly-headed, brown-eyed baby idolizing and seeing herself as a White, straight-blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll?


Some of you may recall the study CNN and several other media outlets conducted to test Black kids perception of beauty through the use of dolls (although CNN’s study also included White children), modeled after Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s famous “Doll Test” used in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Like with Kenneth and Mamie’s findings, most kids involved in the new studies pointed to the White doll when asked which one was “pretty,” “nice,” and “good” and targeted the Black doll when asked which one was “ugly,” “bad” and “mean.”

Yes, this is real. There are really Black kids all over the world who see themselves as less than and unattractive due to Black-bashing, European beauty standards projected in media, and a lack of parental interference. But I believe this perception would change if parents started instilling lessons of self-love in our babies early on, and one of these steps includes restocking those toy shelves with figures that reflect the magnificence of our beautiful Black children.

For years, we rarely saw toy representations of Black people. Now, there’s no excuse. We have a wide variety of Black doll companies boasting beautiful Black skin (and natural, curly and kinky hair) just waiting to decorate the toy chests of Black children all over the globe. So when it comes to the question of whether or not Black girls should be allowed to play with White dolls, I say: “Ehh, sometimes.” There’s nothing wrong with a little diversity. Just as long as the majority of her toys look like they were picked from her family tree.

But what are your thoughts parents? Should Black girls be allowed to play with White dolls?

American Girl Removes Dolls Of Color Ahead Of Line Re-Launch

May 28th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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American Girl

American Girl

American Girl, the line of dolls that come with their own personal story, has discontinued two historical characters of color: African American Cecile and Asian American Ivy, two dolls that represent a diversity not often seen on the shelves at toy stores. The Mattel-owned company retired the dolls in order to re-launch a new historical character line. American Girl wrote in the comment section of its announcement, “With the re-launch planned for this fall, we have decided to move away from the character-friend strategy within the line, which means we will no longer offer Ruthie, Ivy, or Cecile and Marie-Grace.”

The historical character line was created by aligning three pairs of dolls who are best friends under strained circumstances, presented through the lens of various periods in American history. For instance, in an example provided by the American Girl site, Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner form an “unlikely bond” in New Orleans, Lousiana when sickness spreads through the city. This friendship is formed directly after the Civil War and is most likely linked to the Reconstruction Period where slaves were assimilating into greater American society. Asian American Ivy Ling is the best friend of Julie Albright. Living in San Francisco, their friendship was shaped by Chinese immigration during the 1970s. Ling’s character represents Asian-American girls who are first generation and strive to make their families proud.

With Cecile and Ivy leaving the line, only Addy, Josefina (New Mexican) and Kaya (Nez Perce) will represent dolls of color. Addy is an African-American slave.

Since business and  media has a huge impact on the way children feel about issues that directly affect them, MadameNoire asked 10-year-old Rachel Andries for her thoughts about the issue. “I like black dolls because they make me feel beautiful,” she told MN. “Also I can dress them up and style them the way I would like to dress.” When she heard American Girl will only be selling Addy, Rachel shared, “I would choose Cecile Rey over Addy because slavery was not nice.”

Due to the announcement, American Girl’s historical line is selling like hot cakes. Do you think consumers will still support American Girl after Cecile and Ivy say their final goodbyes? Do you have suggestions for the new line of dolls?

The ‘Every Girl’ Doll? Lammily Is No Barbie! She’s Designed With An Average Female Body In Mind

March 10th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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lammilyA new doll named Lammily might just revolutionize the toy industry. At the very least, it will change the doll industry. Over the years many have complained that Barbie is an unrealistic image of the average woman; that the doll can actually lead to little girls developing poor self images because they don’t have Barbie’s “perfect” and wholly unrealistic body. Lammily’s look is designed to reflect the average 19-year-old.

Her motto is, “Average is beautiful.” And she truly is average. “Her body shape is based on averages of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that is more often used to track the American obesity epidemic,” reports The Atlantic.

Designed by Nickolay Lamm, a graphic artist whose images of the “Normal Barbie” went viral on the Internet last year, Lammily is expected to hit the market by Christmas 2014. Lamm has launched a crowdsourcing project to get the doll into production, exceeding the fundraising goal with $370,190 raised. Lamm aims to produce 5,000 of the dolls and hoped to raise $95,000, reports International Business Times. He has 6,500 supporters. (It might be worth noting here that sales of the Barbie doll have decreased in recent years.)

“If Barbie were a real woman, she would be incapable of walking on two feet or lifting anything with her tiny wrists, and her svelte waist would only have room for half of a liver, according to a report by” [h/t NBC News]

Lamm has not said if the dolls will come in various ethnicities.

No word on whether Lammily will have Barbie’s to-die for fashions or a sports car-driving boyfriend. But she’ll be athletic and wear comfortable shoes, which might be just as good.

Tour Barbie’s Dreamhouse in Florida

May 16th, 2013 - By Rich
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Plenty of little girls have longer for Barbie’s Dreamhouse. The rooms, the accessories, the Ken doll. Now, in Sunrise, Florida girls big and small can live the dream at the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience at Sawgrass Mills mall, reports.

Clocking in at 10,000 square feet, the colossal candy pink building features things like a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and of course an enormous closet, all complete with life-sized furniture. The walls are lined with Barbies and there are interactive options that make the experience is even more real. Vice president for global marketing Lori Pantel told, “The Dreamhouse Experience marks the first time fans are able to experience Barbie’s dream life first hand.”

The Dreamhouse Experience is also available to girls of all ages in Berlin, Germany, but it was met with protests by those who felt the exhibit reinforced damaging gender roles. As for why the American installment is housed in Florida, Mattel representatives say it’s because Florida has a high concentration of Barbie collectors.

Pulled From The Internet: EBay Bans the Sale Of “Django” Dolls

January 28th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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They were controversial as soon as they hit the market — the Django Unchained action figures caused debate over whether they were racist, inappropriate, and/or exploitive. Now the dolls have been banned from eBay, according to TMZ.

As we reported, many complained that the selling of these slave dolls, which were available on Amazon, is not only racially insensitive but also makes light of slavery. Following massive backlash from African-American advocacy groups, The Weinstein Company (which produced the film) discontinued the promotional figurines.

Ebay said via emails to sellers, “Since the manufacturer of this product has discontinued the item’s sale due to its potentially offensive nature, we are not allowing it to be sold on eBay,” reports TMZ. According to eBay, the dolls  were in violation of the company’s “Offensive Materials policy.” The dolls had been fetching as much as $300 apiece. According to Deadline Hollywood, the bidding for a complete set of the dolls had reached $1,000.

But all this controversy could have the opposite effect, making the doll even more collectible and expensive.

Are you opposed to the Django dolls?

Gender & Toys: Monkey Study Suggests Hormonal Basis For Children’s Toy Preferences

August 27th, 2012 - By Kay Hudson
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Have you ever wondered why your daughter gravitates more towards her dolls and your son more towards his Tonka trucks? According to very interesting article posted by Huffington Post – the answer may surprise you – and oddly enough, it’s tied to a monkey experiment.

When offered the choice of playing with either a doll or a toy truck, girls will typically pick the doll and boys will opt for the truck. This isn’t just because society encourages girls to be nurturing and boys to be active, as people once thought. In experiments, male adolescent monkeys also prefer to play with wheeled vehicles while the females prefer dolls — and their societies say nothing on the matter.

The monkey research, conducted with two different species in 2002 and 2008, strongly suggested a biological explanation for children’s toy preferences. In recent years, the question has become: How and why does biology make males (be they monkey or human) prefer trucks, and females, dolls?

New and ongoing research suggests babies’ exposure to hormones while they are in the womb causes their toy preferences to emerge soon after birth. As for why evolution made this so, questions remain, but the toys may help boys and girls develop the skills they once needed to fulfill their ancient gender roles.

First, in 2009, Gerianne Alexander, professor of psychology at Texas A&M University, and her colleagues found that 3- and 4-month-old boys’ testosterone levels correlated with how much more time they spent looking at male-typical toys such as trucks and balls compared with female-typical toys such as dolls, as measured by an eye tracker. Their level of exposure to the hormone androgen during gestation (which can be estimated by their digit ratio, or the relative lengths of their index and ring fingers) also correlated with their visual interest in male-typical toys.

“Specifically, boys with more male-typical digit ratios showed greater visual interest in a ball compared to a doll,” Alexander told Life’s Little Mysteries.

Kim Wallen, a psychologist at Emory University who has studied the gender-specific toy preferences of young rhesus monkeys, said, “The striking thing about the looking data shows that the attraction to these objects occurs very early in life, before it’s likely to have been socialized.”

Further buttressing the idea that toy preferences are caused by hormones, last year, a group of British researchers found that girls with a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, who experienced abnormally high levels of the male sex hormone androgen while in the womb, prefer to play with male-typical toys.

But why would male sex hormones make people favor wheeled vehicles and balls? A common explanation holds that these toys facilitate more vigorous activity, which boys are evolutionarily programmed to seek out. But the 2009 study indicated that their affinity for balls and trucks predates the stage when children actually start playing with toys. At just 3 months old, the newborn boys already fixed their eyes on the toys associated with their gender.

“Given that these babies lack physical abilities that would allow them to ‘play’ with these toys as do older children, our finding suggests that males preference for male-typical toys are not determined by the activities supported by the toys (i.e., movement, rough play),” Alexander said.

Wallen approaches the data more cautiously. “It’s hard to interpret what the looking data mean because we don’t know why people are attracted to specific things. Clearly children recognize that certain objects in their environment are appropriate for certain activities. They could be looking at a certain toy because it facilitates an activity they like,” he said.

The debate over why boys prefer toy vehicles and balls continues. In a new study, Alexander and her colleagues investigated whether 19-month-olds move around when playing with trucks and balls more than they do when playing with dolls. According to the study, they don’t. Toddlers with higher levels of testosterone are more active than toddlers with lower levels of the sex hormone, but the active toddlers moved around just as much when holding a toy truck, ball or doll. “We find no evidence to support the widely held belief that boys prefer toys that support higher levels of activity,” she wrote in an email. A paper detailing the work has been accepted for publication in the journal Hormones and Behavior.

If it isn’t vigorous activity they’re after, it could be that boys simply find balls and wheeled vehicles more interesting, while human figures appeal more to girls. As for why evolution would program these toy preferences, the researchers have a few ideas. According to Alexander, one possibility is that girls have evolved to perceive social stimuli, such as people, as very important, while the perceived worth of social stimuli (and thus, dolls that look like people) is weaker in boys.

Boys, meanwhile, tend to develop superior spatial navigation abilities. “Multiple studies in humans and primates shows there is a substantial male advantage in mental rotation, which is taking an object and rotating it in the mind,” Wallen said. “It could be that manipulating objects like balls and wheels in space is one way this mental rotation gets more fully developed.”

This is purely speculative, Wallen said, but boys’ superior spatial abilities have been tied to their traditional role as hunters. “The general theory is that well-developed skills in mental rotation allowed long distance navigation: using an egocentric system where essentially you navigate using your perception of your location in 3D space,” he said. “This might have facilitated long distance hunting parties.”

Words By: Natalie Wolchover
Published: 08/24/2012 07:26 AM EDT on Lifes Little Mysterie

I’m a Big Kid Now: 10 Toys Every Woman Should Have Had as a Girl

February 15th, 2012 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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As a kid, everyone had their favorite toys: whether it be a doll, a cool tea party set, a teddy bear–you name it, we claimed it, and when we got old enough to act like we didn’t care for toys anymore, we were still sad when mom decided to give our favorite toy to someone who needed it more. Yeah, childhood was great and simple, and our toys made it that much better. After seeing that there is a toy fair going on in NYC currently, it inspired me to create this ode to the dopest toys from our childhood. Time to walk down memory lane ladies!



Easy-Bake Oven

Born and bred in the 1960s, the Easy-Bake Oven was most young girls’ first real foray into cooking. While the boxed oven of goodness came with cake mix, if you were like me, once those sweet concoctions ran out, you were working with anything you had in the house. I can’t tell you how many Frosted Flakes and grape jelly cakes I was cooking for folks in my house (they weren’t too excited to eat them though…). Definitely a defining toy in many homes for the little gals and the hungry big brothers.

Women’s Group Gives Barbies Natural Hair Makeovers for Christmas

December 12th, 2011 - By Brande Victorian
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An African-American natural hair group is planning to hand out Barbies to girls at Booker T. Washington apartments in Columbus, GA, for Christmas, but before giving away the dolls, the women plan to give them a bit of a hair makeover.

“When you look for dolls, they all have straight hair,” group member Candice McBride told the Ledger-Enquirer. “It’s tricky even to find ones with brown eyes,” she added noting the European features visible on most dolls despite the fact that they come in 50 nationalities.

Using an online tutorial for halo or rotini hairstyles for Barbies, the ladies will transform the texture of the dolls’ hair via pipe cleaners, end papers, and boiling water.

“We wanted to show the girls that basically, it’s okay the way God made you,” said Jennifer Henderson, another member of the group. Henderson said her 2-year-old daughter, Imani, isn’t into Barbies just yet, but she does like dolls.

“She’s into baby dolls. I’ll brush her hair and she’ll brush her doll’s hair,” she said. “She wants to do what she sees me doing.”

The ladies plan to make over 40 dolls before the holidays using this recipe. What do you think of this idea for making over straight-haired Barbie dolls? Have you ever tried this?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

More on Madame Noire!

5 Black Toy Companies That Embrace Multicultural Identity and Culture

April 20th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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In the 1940s, African-American psychologists Kenneth Bancroft Clark and his wife, Mamie Phillps Clark, designed a test known as the “doll test” to see how children responded to race. The test was administered to black children between the ages of three and seven. When the children were asked which of the four dolls that they were shown did they prefer, the majority selected the white doll and described it as most desirable, whereas the black dolls were described as the least desirable.

In recent years, there have been conscious attempts within the toy industry to present a more diverse selection of dolls—Mattel introduced the “black” Barbie, the cabbage patch kids now include dolls of a darker hue, and Disney released a doll of its first black princess. Despite these efforts, some African-Americans have taken it upon themselves to create and produce dolls and other kid friendly items to help instill a sense of self-pride and self-awareness in minority children. Here’s our list of those black toy companies that are helping to make the industry more reflective of today’s diverse children’s population:

HIA Toys

From the time he was a little boy, Sterling Ashby was a comic book enthusiast. His boyhood passion and a Christmas shopping experience inspired him to create his own line of collectibles. The idea came to Ashby in 2003 when he purchased a doll of a famous scientist for a friend’s son. Ashby and the young boy were both amazed by the doll. Using that experience as a guide, Ashby launched History in Action Toys, a line that consists of a series of action figures that Ashby describes as fun, positive role models whose real-life stories are designed to awaken both a child’s imagination and appeal to the kid in everyone.

Oprah Faces Racism on Australian Trip, Gets ‘Mamee’ Dolls Removed!

December 13th, 2010 - By madamenoire
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You would not believe the mess that still happens around racism in this world. Read more about what Oprah experienced on the far, far end of the world, better known as Australia, here.