Every year our church puts out a Holiday Tree and our family picks a card off the tree and buys gifts for child or sometimes adult on the card. This year I chose a 10 year old girl named “Wendy” who wanted clothes and a 24″ doll. Shopping for girl clothes was a breeze and fun. I got to buy pink and clothes with glitter! Then, came time for me to pick out a doll and that’s when I encountered a dilemma… white doll or black doll…
Over the years, I’ve read blog posts and seen the video of the little black girls choosing the white dolls over the black ones because they felt they were prettier and better. I personally, grew up with white and black dolls. I had an extensive Barbie collection, all white, actually I preferred my Barbie’s to be white. *ducks from the firing squad* Why? Well, to me, Barbie was white. Also, do you remember the black Barbies from the 80’s with her weird eye shadow and lipstick colors? That chick didn’t look like my mom when she go dressed up! Most of my other dolls, Cabbage Patch kids, Baby Alives and more were black. I think if I had a daughter her doll collection would be mixture as well, even if my husband wasn’t part white and a white doll wouldn’t represent a part of her. I grew up surrounded by strong, confident, self-loving black women. Because of them, I grew up loving and comfortable in my brown skin.
That being said, it was totally different picking out a doll for “Wendy”, a girl whose background I don’t know. If she’s black, does she love herself and is self-love promoted in her home? If she’s white, would a black doll be accepted in the house? This morning, I read Mimi from Lipgloss and Binky’s tweets (@glossymimi) about her 3 year old daughter’s comments on wanting her hand and hair to be light like the pretty kids in her class and on tv. Knowing a 3 year old had those thoughts really saddened and stuck with me. With the possibility that “Wendy” could be a little black girl, I took it to heart when choosing a doll. I know Mimi and her family will be there to let her daughter know she is beautiful and loved, but does “Wendy” have the same support system? I stood in Target looking at their knock-off American Girl Dolls. There was one black doll left and about six white dolls.
“It’s just a doll it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter”
They will just be grateful for a stranger buying the gift and won’t care”
Then, I thought:
“What if “Wendy” is black and doesn’t have a doll that looks like her and I buy a blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll? Will I totally screw her up?”
“What if “Wendy” is a little black girl who and doesn’t have someone telling her she’s pretty or any examples of that?”
“Does she love herself and is self-love promoted in her home?”
“What if “Wendy” is white and opens a black doll? Will her parents let her play with it? Will they throw away my hard-earned money?”
The “what ifs” were driving me crazy! I needed help, so I phoned a friend. She understood and thought all of my points were valid. She suggested I call the organizers of the gift drive and explain the dilemma and see if they knew the race of family. After minutes of going back and forth, she suggested I get a white doll with brunette hair because, though it’s not right, a black family receiving a white doll may go over better than vice versa. I thought about it and I think I’ve only ever seen one little white girl with a black doll in my 34 years. Obviously, we see little black girls with white dolls all the time. After 30 mins of discussion, I was finally at the checkout counter with “Wendy’s” clothes and her doll:
In the end, I thought, if “Wendy” is a little black girl I really wanted her to open her gift and see a brown doll looking back at her. If she happens to be Caucasian, Asian or Latina, I’m hoping they’ll still keep her. If not, I’m also taping a gift receipt to the box!
What do you think, did I over think the doll choice? Which doll would you choose?