Though it may not seem like it, dolls and other toys have the power to influence the mindset of children from a very young age. For the most part, news coverage, magazines and these toys reflect societally deemed “normal” standards. Movies cast white people to portray people of color, while certain clothing stores neglect POC (people of color) representation and market towards specific body types. These representations, in general, lead to a one-sided portrayal of the world and subvert attention from the undeniably present discrimination. Until recently, the world of dolls has conformed to these norms. However, through the creation of unique dolls such as the Lammily doll and Hearts 4 Hearts Girls, children receive exposure to different body images and cultures.
The creators of the Lammily doll decided to test their product on second graders from St. Edmunds Academy in Pittsburgh. The children, coated in maroon blazers and excitement, unboxed the dolls. Cries of “She looks like my sister” and “She looks real” peal from their mouths. The Lammily doll – whose measurements are based off of the average height and weight of the typical 19-year-old woman – has comparatively larger proportions than Barbie. The inherent familiarity these children associate with the dolls shows that Lammily successfully created a more relatable doll. Additionally, in order to promote awareness and self-acceptance amongst children, the doll includes a kit of stickers that feature stretch marks and acne, showing children that these things are a normal part of life. The truth is that the body type glorified as ideal by Barbies is actually detrimental. If Barbie were a real woman, her feet would be too small to support her body weight, her wrists too small for heavy lifting and her waist too small to fit her vital organs. The Lammily doll is a step forward in not enforcing the unhealthy standard body image of Barbie on young children.
Hearts 4 Hearts Girls, on the other hand, breaks cultural barriers. Upon visiting their site, Playmates Toys’ effort to be culturally diverse is instantly apparent. Their site features dolls from places such as Mexico City, Assam, Laos, and Bellarus. The company bases the dolls off of girls all over the world and shares their stories. For every doll sold, the company donates a dollar to children from the doll’s region. The distribution of these dolls not only aids children in various countries, but also increases cultural awareness and POC representation. Children of color are finally being taught that their cultures are worth celebrating as well.
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