If you’re a little Black girl, having a beautiful black doll is a positive thing. It affirms, if only in your subconscious, the important message that: “This doll is beautiful, this doll is Black, I’m Black, I must be beautiful too.
And that’s one of the driving principles of the Pattycake Doll Company… we want all those Black and African American, Biracial and Mixed Kids, South Asian and East Asian children… in fact all children of color to be able to have pride and enjoy the self-esteem that comes when they can have “a doll that looks like me.”
But what if you’re a young girl and bald – whether from chemotherapy or disease or you have alopecia. Is there a doll that looks like you?
And if you think that is a silly question, or that it doesn’t matter, think again. In 2012 after vigorous Facebook and Change.org campaigns, Mattel agreed to create ‘Bald Barbies.’ (They were not sold in stores – they were donated to children’s hospitals). When the limited run ran out, those parents whose children had been comforted by the bald ‘Ella’ Barbie dolls, got them to do it again.
But if your daughter didn’t have cancer, but was bald, there was no way to get a bald doll. And remember… if you shave the hair off a Barbie, you end up with a doll with lots of little holes in her head.
This month, Madame Alexander released a new series of 18 inch dolls. (18″ dolls are a ‘category’ of dolls that were made famous by American Girl®). These beautiful fashion dolls come with interchangeable wigs instead of having the typical ‘rooted’ hair.
I think they’re brilliant, particularly for Black children, because it gives them the option of getting the doll with natural hair (as it comes out of the box), and there is also an optional straight hair wig. There are beautiful Black women with natural hair and there are beautiful Black women with straight hair. This new Black ‘wig doll,’ reinforces their positive self-image both ways.
But I also like the idea that children with alopecia don’t have to be in the hospital or going through chemo to get a ‘bald doll.’
I think that Madame Alexander has just created a great win-win. A winner for children’s self-esteem. A winner with an 18 inch doll with interchangeable hair fashions to go along with interchangeable clothes fashions.
And for those thousands of children with alopecia, a doll that ‘looks like me.’
PS: The only drawback to the ‘bald’ Madame Alexander wig dolls is that there are three circles marked to help guide the wig placement. I’d just tell the kids “They’re cool tattoos. And no, you can’t get tattooed.”
PPS: The new wig dolls are available in White with a straight brown wig and Black with the slouch cap/natural hair combination wig. There are three optional wigs… straight black hair, blonde and strawberry blonde.