I fully and unashamedly admit it: I am one of “those” moms. I want my daughters to play with Black dolls. My reason is simple: I am raising little Black girls in hopes of turning them into strong, empowered Black women who love themselves. And unfortunately, even in 2015, it can still be difficult to find beautiful representations of Black girls in the world around us. To counter that, I prefer to expose them to beautiful, positive reflections of blackness at home — including their dolls. This is not to say that I won’t ever let them play with dolls of other hues. But let’s be honest: Representations of other types of beauty — which look nothing like me or my daughters — are not hard to find. So I’ll always look for a Black doll first, because I know that my daughters will be able to see a little bit of themselves in the doll, and they’ll get the message that beauty comes in lots of different packages.
As such, I love the fact that Walmart’s My Life As doll collection has something beautiful and positive to offer my daughters — dolls that look like them, with hair like them. In fact, they have dolls that represent all sorts of girls: Dark skin, light skin, curly hair and straight, blonde, brunette, redhead. My oldest daughter actually already has one My Life As doll, and she loves playing with her and dressing her up. So when Walmart offered to send us this year’s Doll of the Year, I knew she’d be excited. I don’t think either of us anticipated how excited her little sister would be, too.
It would help to explain that the 2015 Doll of the Year is a dog walker. A pretty dog walker in a fuzzy poncho and a cute headband, but the dog walker part is what mattered to baby Juliza. Because as soon as we pulled out the box, she spotted the 3 puppies that came with the doll. Try as we might, we couldn’t get her to play with anything else. Here, you can see for yourself:
Juliza really, really likes those puppies.
I mean, the doll is OK too, but in her 21-month-old eyes, the puppies are the best part. Ja’Naya on the other hand, was captivated by the doll and her fabulous outfit and hair. She won’t have straight hair to match her doll’s any time soon, but at least now she’ll get to play in straight hair.
They named the new doll Melissa, and she has made a fine friend for Ja’Naya’s other My Life As doll. In fact, I’d say they’re besties since they share clothes and accessories.