Thursday, February 16, 2012

Girls and Their Dolls

Since I love Big Time Rush (yeah, I know I’m a dork, don’t rub it in), I watch the show obsessively. While glued to my TV and waiting for the pretty boys to come back on, I’ve noticed ads for Hearts 4 Hearts Girls doll. They seemed pretty cool in the commercial, so I decided to look into them. I wasn’t disappointed - they are really awesome dolls. There are six: Nahji from India, Lilian from Belarus, Tipi from Laos, Dell from the US, Consuelo from Mexico, and Rahel from Ethiopia.

On the website, each doll has a page giving some details of her life. What I love about it is that the site doesn’t mince words and sugarcoat things, it really tells it like it is. Nahji’s page has a picture of a woman sitting in a field, captioned “tea pickers work very hard for low wages,” and she says that she raises ducks to help her family and sews beads onto sari fabric for extra money. Each doll has a diary too, with dozens of entries about their real lives. Nahji’s first entries are about how her father is disabled, her mother is a tea picker who worked since age eight, and her sister has cleaned houses since age ten (Nahji’s age), but she wants to be educated, learn how to farm and raise ducks, and have a successful business in order to help her family and not be a poor tea picker.

I also really like that the dolls are pretty (a lot more appealing than American Girls, in my opinion). I know it’s sexist that I’m buying into societal beauty standards like that, but little girls at this point in history just don’t like to play with dolls that aren’t pretty, and the Hearts 4 Hearts Girls fulfill that requirement. What I really appreciate is that all of the dolls are pretty, but they still look realistic; the dolls all have different facial features, which is important because they’re all from different cultures. (Part of the reason I refused to play with non-white Barbies as a kid was because I felt they looked weird. I now realize my definition of “weird” was that they may have had darker skin, but they had white features. I think they look more realistic nowadays, which is a really great thing that Mattel is doing.)

And while I’m taking about dolls, I feel like I should mention Gali Girls. They’re supposed to be Jewish, coming with candlesticks and challah. The Jewish feminist community has critiqued them for boxing girls into traditional femininity and gender roles. I do agree with this, but on the other hand, I think that these dolls can really empower girls. I remember when the secular Jewish modern-day limited-edition American Girl doll, Lindsey Bergman, came out when I was younger. My mom immediately bought her for me, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world to have a Jewish doll. I remember reading her book, which has a big subplot about her brother’s bar mitzvah, with glee. Seeing all the Jewish references really gave me such a connection to her. know young girls who have Rebecca, the official Jewish historical American Girl doll, and they absolutely love her. There’s just something special about having a doll that you can personally relate to and have a connection with, which is why I like the Gali Girl dolls. Are they perfect? No. But hey, you gotta start somewhere.

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