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.

Golliwog – A Black Racist Doll?

A Golliwog Doll

A modern Golliwog doll

This is a Golliwog Doll. A simple sack of cloth filled with stuffing. For generations of children a beloved doll. But today, this Black doll has been turned into a racial negative.

How did this happen? How does a simple cloth doll that was loved for decades become a symbol of racism?

The doll didn’t change. Golliwogs today look much the same as they did 120 years ago when they were introduced as a character in The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls by Florence Kate Upton in 1895 my sources.

Golliwog - illustration by Florence Kate Upton

Golliwog – illustration by Florence Kate Upton

And she based the Golliwog doll on one she had owned as a child in the 1870’s. So what changed?  Let’s just say “The Times Changed.” It’s about as accurate an answer as there is for a simple doll store owner like myself.

But I would ask you: “As a doll lover, am I allowed to love Golliwog Dolls too? Can I love the doll while admitting that it is no longer a socially acceptable image? What do you think?