Dolls for Transgender Children

All children need to play with dolls, no matter their gender identification.

For the youngest children, dolls provide cuddle and comfort. For toddlers, dolls make great ‘security objects’ — that touch of the familiar that they can carry with them as they start to explore the world around them.

But most importantly, dolls help children to learn to nurture; they become your child’s own ‘children’ to love and to care for. It’s one of the first skills a child learns.

Make no mistake — the best mothers and fathers 20 years from now, are the ones learning how to nurture today… by way of doll play.

This is as true for little girls as it is for little boys. Neither nurture nor love is dependent on a child’s ‘gender.’

Fritzi Doll

Fritzi, a gender neutral doll for boys, girls and transgender children.

This is also true for transgender children. Sometimes, God puts the mind and the soul of one gender into the body of the other. Sometimes it is temporary, and you get the ‘tomboy’ girls and the ‘princess’ boys. Sometimes it is permanent and in adulthood they will undertake the transition. But regardless of any label, children need dolls to love and nurture.

Recently we started carrying a new kind of doll. A gender neutral doll. Neither ‘pink aisle’ nor ‘blue aisle,’ Fritzi is the perfect doll for boys, girls, tomboys, princesses, gay, lesbian, or transgender. Whichever gender role that child needs their doll to fill, Fritzi can be that doll. The child can project a gender onto the doll, or leave it ambiguous, or even change it from one to the other as he or she sees fit. The name is gender-neutral, the clothes are gender-neutral, the doll is gender-neutral. Imagination is the key determiner.

Unfortunately, dolls need to be placed in one aisle or another in the toy store. But for the parents who are willing to think outside of the ‘pink aisle is where you find dolls’ mindset, we are happy to present an alternative. A doll that any child can identify as being of the ‘right’ gender.

Why Dolls Still Matter

If somebody tells a lie, and it gets repeated enough times so that everybody starts to believe it, does it make the lie true?

I’m in the doll business, I sell dolls for children at The Pattycake Doll Company’s website.

The big ‘lie’ that ‘s troubling me is this:

“Traditional toys are dead. Children today want electronic toys.” Over and over and over again – in many different variations – this is what my industry is talking about.

Apps, Laps and Tablets. Mobile games, Interactive this and interactive that. I can’t begin to tell you how many toy companies make toys that they hope will appeal to today’s kids by trying desperately to find a way to ‘get them to a website,’ where they can register a name, or join a club etc etc.

The funny thing is, that when we were raising my kids the lie was T.V. Kids weren’t ‘playing,’ because they were stuck to the T.V.

Today kids aren’t ‘playing’ because they are too busy with apps and games on the internet.

But here’s the truth:
You can’t hug a laptop.

LittleGirl with doll

 Apps are not very cuddly.

And as far as I know,

No baby wants to sleep with their arms around a cell phone.

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The Goldie Action Figure

Does doll play lead to career choices?

The New 'Goldie' action figure from Goldie Blox™

The New ‘Goldie’ action figure from Goldie Blox™

Goldie Blox is an interesting toy company wrapped around an assumption. The assumption is that if you create toys that ‘teach’ “engineering, spatial skills and problem solving,” (with a target market of girls), that someday, there will be more women engineers and scientists. And they’ve just released a new doll (and wicked smart marketing campaign) to augment their assumption. I hope they’re right.

But I don’t think that they are. One man’s opinion.

I don’t think that toys, or children’s play in general, leads to career choices, or lifestyle choices or any other kinds of choices.

Boys who play with and nurture boy baby dolls don’t automagically become gay.

Black children playing with white baby dolls don’t become white. Or suddenly lose their self esteem.

Girls who grow big breasts as women don’t blame it on playing with Barbie.

I just don’t think it works that way.

But what I do think happens, is that doll play opens a child’s eyes to possibilities and opportunities.

Boys who play with and nurture baby dolls may see themselves one day as caring and loving fathers.

Black children playing with beautiful Black dolls can believe themselves as beautiful too. The example is right there in their arms.

And children playing with the new Goldie doll may imagine themselves to be as smart and interesting as Goldie. And that’s a good thing.

Why Do You Do What You Do? PtII

            It’s an interesting question, and one we had to think about for awhile to answer: Why Do You Do What You Do? Here’s how we finally answered it:

            Why do Adrienne and I run The Pattycake Doll Company?

            Let’s start with how we got started. Believe you me, when we were children and someone asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We never said: “Be the country’s largest online specialty doll store owners.”

            So we have to admit that how we got here was as much of a surprise to us as to anyone else. But to make a long story short, we tried something else, (gift baskets for parents of new babies) failed miserably, (never sold a one), and before we shut down the store, tried selling some of the stuff ‘inside’ the gift baskets separately. Surprisingly, an Asian rag doll named ‘Ling’ by the Russ Berrie company, sold out almost immediately.

Ling An Asian Cloth Doll for Children

The Doll That started our business

            We made a few ‘customer service’ follow up phone calls and asked: “Why’d you buy the doll?” (This was back in the very early days of the internet, and not so strange as it would be today, when you get emails after you buy.)

            We got the same answer several times: “We just got back from China with a little adopted girl, and couldn’t find any Asian dolls in the stores, so we came online and found Ling.”

            Aha! Here was a need!

            So instead of continuing along with what we wanted to do – sell Baby Baskets – we decided to do what ‘they’ wanted us to do – sell multi-cultural and ethnic dolls for children. And then a few years later, we discovered that there was a pretty big demand for boy dolls so we added them too.

            So that’s how we got started. And we found that we loved it!

            The other part of the question of “Why do you do what you do?” is probably: “So why are you still doing it?”

            There are three parts to that answer:

            First: We had a family to support, we loved our work, so yes, part of it was to make a living so we could support our children.

            Second: We love what we do because we understand that we’ve helped create happiness and joy for thousands and thousands of people!

            When a child unwraps a doll, and sees its face for the very first time, the sheer joy and pleasure that child feels was – just a little bit- caused by us. And the smile on the face of the Mom, or Dad, or Grandma, or Auntie when they see their child’s joy; well… we’ll take a little credit for that as well. We’re in the happiness business.

            And finally, Third: We donate 10% of all of our company’s profits to charities that help children. So in addition to the thousands of families that have purchased and gifted our dolls, there are hundreds of children who needed help who got help from our tithe. So the bigger we build our business, and the more doll happiness we can create, the more charity we can give to children who need it.

            That’s why we do what we do.

Giving Charity and Dolls

43 Dolls for the Harpo Productions show.

43 Dolls for the Oprah’s Harpo Productions show.

Hundreds of years ago a philosopher named Maimonides taught that there were eight steps of giving charity, each one higher than the next.**

What does all of this have to do with Dolls?

Harpo Productions, (Oprah Winfrey’s company) needed 43 dolls for a TV show they were doing. I asked them what they were going to do with the dolls after the show? When they acknowledged that they hadn’t really thought about it, I suggested they donate them to the Toy Industry Foundation, and thought nothing more of it. As many of our customers know, The Pattycake Doll Company donates 10% of all of our profits to children’s charities -(meaning 10% of the profits from our sale to Oprah would eventually be donated as well.)

Last week we received an ‘alert’ from Twitter that @pattycakedoll had been mentioned in a tweet along with @teamharpo. Those dolls had just been handed out by TIF to children whose parents are in the US Military at a TIF giveaway at Langley Air Force Base.

Here’s that link: https://twitter.com/ToyIndustryFndn/status/512684524971368448/photo/1

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Giving dolls as charity is not at all unusual. We get calls year round from people who are going ‘on a mission’ to Africa or Haiti or somewhere similar and want to take some dolls with them ‘for kids in the orphanage.’ At Christmas time we sell hundreds of dolls to people who have plucked a ‘wish’ card off of a Giving Tree or for Toys for Tots. And of course Pattycake Doll donates dolls ourselves from our excess inventory or ‘damaged box’ products and the like.

Has God blessed you with bounty? Think Dolls!

** Maimonides Eight Levels

  • The bottom step was when you gave charity, but were mealy mouthed about it. The person who you gave to “was just lazy, they probably wouldn’t appreciate it, you only did it because you had to,” that kind of thing
  • A step up was giving without complaint, but giving way too little. Like giving one dollar to a family that has thousands of dollars in medical bills.
  • A step up from that was to give gladly, but only after being asked to help.
  • Better yet was to give before being asked… to realize the need and want to help.
  • The next level was to give, not knowing who is receiving, so that the recipient doesn’t become embarrassed by your gift.
  • Better than that, Maimonides thought, would be to give anonymously. You know who is getting it, but they don’t know it’s you who is giving.
  • The next best is when neither of you know… Maimonides described this as giving for the sake of goodness. You don’t need to know who, you don’t need to know why, you just want to share your bounty with someone less fortunate.
  • The top step, the purest form of charity was to make it possible for a person to not need charity… for example instead of a donation of food or money or clothes, you gave a scholarship so that they could learn a skill and become self-supporting, or actually gave a person a job.

 

Dressing Dolls is Home Schooling

18 in doll's Chef Outfit

18 Inch doll in 18″ Doll’s Chef Outfit

What is a Chef’s Hat called?¹

An 18" Doll's Hanbok

An 18″ Doll’s Hanbok

In what country do women wear Hanboks?²

When I was young child in the decade after World War II, Europeans were still coming to America from the Displaced Persons camps, and one such girl was placed in my kindergarten class in NYC. She had a little doll dressed as a Dutch Girl wearing wooden shoes.

I didn’t know that there were children in the world who wore wooden shoes.

What other lessons can you teach your children with doll’s clothing? What possibilities might they explore?

I never saw a ‘chef’ until I was an adult. Now they’re on 15 different cooking and variety shows. Chefs make a great living, and many travel the world to study foods and cultures. Would you consider letting your daughter become a chef? Do you think buying her a chef’s outfit for her 18″ doll might be a great way to gently expose her to this fabulous career choice?

And finally, the point of this post… do you think they teach this in your children’s schools?

¹ Toque
² South Korea

Doll Clothes and Razor Blades

Doll clothes for 18" dolls

Doll clothes for 18″ dolls

Today I was thinking of the oft repeated story about King Gillette, (real name) who supposedly invented ‘freebie’ marketing – the old “Give them the razor free, then sell them a gazillion razor blades” concept.

(Popular as that story is, it’s wrong… not because freebie marketing wasn’t a great idea, but because in reality, King actually charged a pretty hefty price for his razors!)

OK then… what does this have to do with our Doll business?

Because whether you think of it as similar to ‘freebie marketing,’ or more like ‘McDonald’s® Marketing’ add on selling (“You want fries with that?”), doll clothes is a multi-multi-million dollar part of the doll business.

Barbie® comes closest to being a ‘freebie marketing’ model. You can buy a Barbie® doll in a basic swimsuit for $7.99 – delivered to your daughter’s front door. 11″ Barbie Clones at the Dollar stores are even less! On Amazon there are approx 3400 different clothing items that you can buy that fit Barbie® and her clones.

American Girl®, is more like McDonalds® add on selling. Only available through their own stores or pop-ups, the 18″ dolls cost approximately $110. Their clothing runs roughly $30 for most outfits… some more, some less. I’ve seen articles online that price the average American Girl® doll and accessories, or a trip to one of their stores (including lunch) between $400 – $600 depending on who wrote the article and what kind of experience they were pricing. That’s a 3 to 5 times multiple folks.

In either case don’t you think we should all be paying more attention to selling doll clothes in our stores!?

Most of the major doll lines that we carry at the Pattycake Doll Company’s store has clothing to go with their dolls, Adora, Corolle, Madame Alexander, North American Bear, Manhattan Toy (Baby Stella and Groovy Girls), etc.

So there, in brief, is the marketing concepts behind doll clothes. Freebie Marketing like Barbie® or McDonalds® selling like American Girl®

In next week’s post we’ll discuss why selling doll clothes is great idea for the consumer – both the parents and their children.

5 Really Non-Traditional Uses for Children’s Dolls

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post  on five traditional uses for dolls that got a lot of interest. Today I’d like to talk about five uses for dolls that are ‘non-traditional.’

1: Good Touch – Bad Touch

antomically correct Asian Boy doll

It doesn’t surprise us, but it does make us feel sad every time The Pattycake Doll Company receives an order of anatomically correct dolls from a Social Services Agency. For children, it is easier and more comfortable to talk about it happening to a doll then it is to themselves.

2: Aromatherapy, Relaxation and Bed Warmer Dolls.

A Microwavable Aromatherapy and Bed Warmer Doll

A Microwavable Aromatherapy and Bed Warmer Doll

Filled with Flax seeds and herbs instead of fiberfill and foam, like these childrens heating pads, are just as soft and cuddly as a traditional teddy bear or other ‘take-to-bed’ doll. But you can put it in the freezer and then between the sheets as an ‘air-conditioner on a hot summer’s eve, or in the microwave to release the delightful aromatherapy and bed warming benefits.

3: Teaching and Representing Diversity

Using dolls to teach diversity

Using dolls to teach diversity

You know that more than half of America’s Children are children of color right? Gone are the days when the only dolls in America’s schools were pink.

4: Comfort Babies

a reborn doll

An example of reborn doll artistry by doll artist Donna Lee

For some people, a ‘Reborn,’ Realistic Doll can fill a void in their hearts. Empty Nesters, widows and widowers, people who have recently lost a child… are all examples of people who have used a doll as a surrogate to attach to while working out their feelings.

Most successful reborn doll artists have had the request to create a doll “exactly like…” a recently deceased child.

5: The Potty Training Dolls

Aquini Boy Doll on doll's potty

Drink and Wet dolls have been around for a long time, but Drink and Wet dolls sold in kits with the potty as Potty Training Dolls, especially the boy version, are a very recent variation.

Using Dolls at Gender Reveal parties

Gallery

This gallery contains 7 photos.

A few years ago I got a call from a grandfather-to-be who wanted to buy a Black Raggedy Ann doll and a Black Raggedy Andy doll, but wanted to know if he could return one or the other.             At … Continue reading