Hasta La Vista, Barbie

My J-Jo's more into stuffing a Build-a-Bear, than actually playing with one. That goes for any plush toy or doll she owns. She still likes the idea of dolls, she's just not interested in committing to any of them. Most of her barbies now go without clothing, finding refuge in the dark under her bed. And I won't get into what happened to the one she took into the bathtub. Let's just say it had to do with soap (lots and lots of soap...). But it's all good, I'm proud that my J-Jo isn't caught up in looking like rapunzel and would much rather play with blocks and build structures that look like they came straight from the pages of Dwell.

Now her sister is an entirely different story. Just like the nurses at the birthing center declared within her first week of ZenBaby's life, she's "all girl". So I shouldn't be surprised she posesses a maternal instinct far beyond her seventeen months. ZenBaby selflessly offers up her bottle to pacify her twin brother without skipping a beat. She spontaneously grabs her daddy's face, presses her rose bud lips to his nose and says "mwahhh!" There isn't one doll or plush toy in the house that she hasn't done that to, either. ZenBaby loves her siblings, her parents and most importantly, her dolls. She was too young to beg me for a new one this Christmas (J-Jo's for now are just fine), but when the times comes, I want to choose one that's perfect.

How hard could it be? you might ask, "every toy store has black dolls now!"

That may be true, but do they have dolls that reaffirm? No really, dolls that don't look like the teenager you pray your daughter won't become. I don't think I want My Scene to be hers. Give us a doll sans cell phone. One with dark brown eyes and pretty caramel skin like ZenBaby's without the Mattel version of what's on special from the Beverly Johnson Wig Collection. I don't need a Bratz Baby, this child's sass-o-meter is through the roof as it is. And once that criteria's met, Santa, I'd prefer for the doll not to come dressed in a leopard bikini, complete with a pole in the box.

When the time comes, and ZenBaby begs me for a doll, I'll follow the lead of savvy mommy writer, Deesha Philyaw. Her girls are older than mine (respectively), and she's really done the research on what this buying brown baby doll thing is really all about. Quite brilliantly, too. Here's Deesha's sage advice for black moms – originally published at Literary Mama – on finding dolls that resemble the real live ones we have at home. It may be too late for Christmas this year, but next season, you'll have a head start:

The Girl is Mine: A Black Mama's Interactive Guide to Shopping for Dolls for Christmas: The Good, The Bad, and The Barbie

by Deesha Philyaw

In December, a Black Mama's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of celebrating Christmas. What will have the kids dancing with joy in the living room on Christmas morning and reassure Mama that she is affirming their wonderfulness and instilling good values? And eschewing rampant consumerism? And minimizing Santa? And not forgetting Jesus?

I make my list and check it twice:

_xx__Make sure girls know that Christmas is more about giving than getting.

_xx__Make sure girls know that Mommy and Daddy's hard-earned money buy their gifts (with one magical exception from Santa, per child).

_xx__Be joyful.

_xx__Dust off the collection of crèches and arrange festively.

_xx__Cuddle up with girls on the couch to read picture books about the Virgin Birth. Try (and fail) to avoid answering, "Didn't Joseph have a penis?"

_____Search for dolls which are not voluptuous and strip-club-ready, and which do not promote a blonde, blue-eyed standard of beauty.
To continue reading...


la dra said...

Hi! Followed your comments from AntiRacistParents and RiceDaddies. We're avoiding the Bratz like the plague too. But we love the groovy girls and have you seen these? http://www.aishaco.com/

My hubby blogs about dolls too here: http://web.mac.com/quioguesperber/iWeb/daddyinastrangeland/blog/F3588402-E6E5-4F63-88C7-8B72B903B574.html

Mrs. J said...

Thanks, la dra!

It's a pleasure to make your accquaintance. I'm a big fan of Rice Daddies, please tell hubby I said so.:)

And thanks for the link, I'm going there now.

Warm holiday wishes to all three of you!


plez... said...

My 5 year old daughter asked for Bratz and their Diamond Tour Bus(?), but since she doesn't play with the thirty-something dolls and ten-plus Build-a-Bears already accumulating dust in her assortment of doll houses, we decided to leave the Bratz in the store this time around (she got 5 or 6 of those dolls and their doll house last year... and for some strange reason, those bug-eyed Bratz dolls still freak me out!).

We did buy her one of those Firefly mobile phones which require you to program the phone numbers that will receive phone calls. It is the cutest little thing and it has Mommy and Daddy buttons for her to use to call our cell phones (I like this feature because I travel for my job and she can call me whenever she wants). I just hope we're not opening a Pandora's Box of issues with this thing!

Anonymous said...

Mrs. J...

Thanks again for showing my column some love and for creating "Our Kind of Community" with your blog. I look forward to reading more of you!

Oh, and we got the Firefly phone for our 8-year-old too. She keeps it in her backpack and has a list of rules as long as she is about its appropriate us. :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, the above comment was from me...Deesha!