My Surprising Lack of Options

I don’t know why I bother clicking on baby dolls or kids’ books. It just upsets me when all the dolls or characters are white and nary a one is anything else. It just makes me feel so sad and disappointed.

At this point, it doesn’t even matter if the doll isn’t Asian or of mixed race (that will be the day). I would accept any ethnicity that is not white. I would also like to see more than one token doll of color – and I don’t consider “really tan” as another ethnicity. But I know that is even crazier than asking for just one mixed race doll.

It’s as if these dolls inhabit a world where there is only one kind of black person or one kind of Latino – but white folks? Legion. Is this how white folks really see the world? That there are a rich mix of features and variety for Caucasians but everyone else looks exactly the same? Or is this what being “color blind” reduces everyone to, causing people to be blind to everyone who is of color?

It really makes me very, very sad. Sad isn’t even the appropriate word. More like angry. Indignant. Defeated.

How many choices of dolls do you think there are out there? Let’s just narrow the field down to that well-known Barbie. Since 1999, there have been at least 2,300 versions sold of the Barbie doll. That’s a lot of dolls. Do you know how many dolls I found when I was looking for an Asian baby doll for Gamera? (Please do not get me started on the creepy, utterly gross results I got. *shiver*) Four. I found FOUR Asian dolls that were reasonable for a toddler to play with (not the collector’s kind and not the squicky sexy kind). There is something wrong with that, don’t you think?

Here’s a great post by someone who loved American Dolls (another super popular doll brand) and their lack of inclusion for Asian Americans. (It’s not like we built a fucking railroad or anything. Oh, wait. WE DID. To be fair, American Dolls does make a custom Asian American doll – but I’m not paying that much money for a doll my kids are going to decapitate someday.)

And for folks who think I am making a big deal out of nothing, do you own a doll of another ethnicity? If not, why? Is it because she doesn’t look like you or your kid? Then why do you suppose I would want a doll that doesn’t look like me or my kid? At best, people have never thought about it much. At worst, they think every one wants to look like them. (My money’s on the former.)

I’m not trying to make people feel bad. To be brutally honest, I don’t give two fucks about other people and the dolls that represent them. (Ok, I do, in a peripheral sort of way.) It’s not the vast variety of white baby dolls that bothers me. As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier. What bothers me is the LACK of dolls that represent ME and MY children.

What I find even MORE astounding is that I would think that Asian countries would be ALL OVER THIS SHIT. Corner the market for Asian Americans and their offspring! But, no. Not a single one that I could find. I think that depresses me even more. I finally bought a French made one for Gamera. The doll looks kinda creepy, but Gamera likes her just fine.

Anyhow, this post got started because I got one an email from one of those deal sites and they were talking about how they have so many beautiful dolls for our little girls to play with. Six dolls were featured and not a single one of them was of a non-white ethnicity. Apparently, only white girls can be princesses and mermaids.

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2 thoughts on “My Surprising Lack of Options

  1. Check out Sasha Dolls. They are my favorite kind; their Swiss artist creator, Sasha Morgenthalar created them using a deliberately ambiguous dark, coffee-coloured vinyl to represent children of all races and ethnicities and gave them flat, unsmiling features so as to promote their young owners own imagination as to whether the dolls were happy or sad etc. I think it’s a lovely starting concept, even if in later years the companies that created them, up until the end of production in the early noughties, had produced many variations (vinyl colours, face styles, head shapes etc) of Sasha’s original idea. They are inspiring dolls and I truly believe this simple concept behind them is what makes them so beautiful.

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