The black doll debate
Why are they no 'acceptable' black dolls for kids?

A chat about the scarcity of black dolls in the market sparked a heated debate amongst my friends the other day. The feeling is that the black dolls you get in the market are ugly and do not represent black women as they are. Most mothers felt that it is important that young black girls grow up identifying with black dolls but currently it is not the case, you do not have a wide choice available – if there is one where pretty black dolls are available I would be happy to go check them out.

The ugliness of black dolls

Some parents and their daughters totally reject black dolls because of how they look and this is worrying. I do agree that some of the black dolls I have seen are ugly hence black parents don’t buy them and that is not the look of the average black woman.  Black consciousness could be one of the things that make parents want the young girl to embrace who they are.  Of course dolls are not the only way but they can help.

I was once approached by a lady who will soon be launching an “acceptable” black doll range and when presenting this black doll to friends the comments were positive. “She looks pretty, I like the hair, the eyes etc.” but in all honesty we were looking at a Beyoncé look alike kind of a doll.

The average African woman doesn’t look like that, same as the average white woman doesn’t look like a Barbie doll. I’m concerned about the image most mothers found acceptable which is false. The acceptable black doll even had a weave on. Is that really the true reflection of how we want to present the black woman to young black girls?

I have nothing against weaves but what concerns me is the false image. If it’s not a doll with a weave then it’s an ugly black doll. Most of the women my age grew up with a white doll but in this time of black consciousness I see many parents wanting the black doll, they are looking for them. I also think it’s important for children to grow up seeing positive depictions of their own image.

Embracing identity

Before this turns into a race discussion, the point I want to emphasise is that the time for our young girls to see dolls that looks like them is important in helping with their identity. I am not sure whether black dolls manufacturers do not consult with young black people to see what would be acceptable without offending anyone. We as mothers are also not helping much given how we look on a day-to-day basis.

In the Parent24 picture I am sporting a weave, well it’s my hair because I have an invoice to show for it but that’s not my natural hair and we need to help our young girls by embracing who are and the embracing our natural look so they can emulate the same. Perhaps it is time that we look at ourselves first. Who knows maybe very soon we can have a black manufacturer creating acceptable black dolls – black like us.

Do your children struggle to find toys they can relate to?

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

Read more by Masanda Peter

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