|Face Value: Are you ready to face the truth about doll bigotry?|
Thereâs a lot of bigotry in this world. Iâm sure you donât need to read a doll blog to figure that out, but I am shocked to realize that I, too, am a bigotâand in a completely indefensible way. Iâm not a racist or a homophobe or a political ideologue. No, my prejudice is something more insidious, and ingrained really deep inside. I just realized I judge a doll by her appearance, andâthis pains me to admitâI favor pretty faces over plain, ordinary ones. I am a doll-mold monster!
Yes, the truth is sometimes hard to take, and this reflection on me is not a flattering one. But when I hold my doll up to a mirror, I want a sunny, stylish, and special visage to stare back at me. It doesnât matter if time has dropped a few lines, wrinkles, and blemishes on my countenance; I want my dolls never to lose the first blush of beauty.
This all came to a headâpardon the punâwhen I discovered the Girls Explore line of dolls http://store.girls-explore.com/badizadoset.html. The New Jersey-based firm has such a laudable mission: they want to encourage girls âto reach for the stars.â As part of their arsenal to do this, they have a line of doll sets that includes a meticulously sculpted doll along with a book that tells the dollâs life story. The characters that are being offered are all real-live women who made a difference: aviator Amelia Earhart, super athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, and pilot Bessie Coleman, to name a few.
What is so noticeable about these dolls is that they have been sculpted to capture the appearances of their famous figures. The dolls are not creampuffs and onetime runway modelsâno, they actually resemble the heroines they are depicting: flaws and all.
When I was looking at the Babe Zaharias doll and the Amelia Earhart one, I immediately thought about the Hollywood movies that have told these famous womenâs tales. In films, Susan Clark has the distinct privilege of playing both Babe and Amelia; Diane Keaton, Amy Adams, and Hilary Swank have portrayed Amelia as well. All of these actresses had to be âmade-down,â as opposed to âmade-up,â to fill these roles. Applauded and lionized for their accomplishments, both Babe and Amelia were NOT lookers. The Girls Explore company knows that âlooks donât matter, achievements do,â and they have made dolls that demonstrate that mantra. I know that truth, tooâI preach that all the timeâbut I have to admit, I am perplexed by these dolls.
When I look at their Amelia, I can see that this was a woman who was fearless as she took to the skies. And their rendering of Harriet Tubman is bursting with bravery and dignity. Bessie Coleman, who is less known than the other personages, was the first African-American woman to attain a pilotâs license, and the first woman to receive an international pilotâs license. She opened a flight school to teach other women how to fly, and lobbied to encourage fellow African Americans to overcome poverty and discouragement by literally rising above it all. That sums up the whole notion of âreaching for the starsâ beautifully and lyrically.
Why, then, when I look at this lineup of women who made a difference, do I think, âHmm, too bad they donât look more like my Gene or Barbie or Tyler dolls?â Why is my first thought: âWill little girls want to play with them? Theyâre not that attractive.â
Over the years, weâve all been exposed to dolls that have been garbed as well-known characters. Barbie has been dressed as Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth, Olivia Newton-John and Isaac Newton. (Okay, Iâm kidding about Isaac Newton, but she has been decked out as a scientist.) Gene, as a make-believe movie star, had costumes that spanned decades and professions. She was able to dress the part, but did not necessarily âlookâ the part. How many WACs actually wore eye shadow and lipstick so thick that it could be spotted by B-52s buzzing above? I doubt that many, but Gene went to war with full âwar paintâ covering her pouty face.
I guess I am a hobby hypocrite. In real life, I am all for being judged on oneâs talents and abilities. The idea of the âpretty preference,â which does exist in schools and the workplace, irks me. Why should a person receive inflated grades and undeserved promotions because of a genetic blessing? Why should better DNA translate into an unearned A or B? However, when it comes to dolls, I am much more comfortable with a Bessie Coleman doll that looks more like Halle Berry or BeyoncĂŠ. Iâm not proud of this; Iâm just stating a fact.
Itâs ironic that I discovered this company and its offerings now in February, the start of Black History Month. I think about Dr. King and his exhortation to judge others by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin.
I hope I can carry that open-minded viewpoint into my doll-buying life: after all, it would be nice to bring the Mary Cassatt doll home and have her inspire my artistically talented daughter and son. It seems to me, this company has a lot to teach all of us, not just girls. I think we all can reach for the stars, by reaching deeper into our better selves.
What do you think about dolls that dare to stray away from the beautiful and the adorable? Would you buy a doll that is just ordinary or average in her appearance, or are you more inclined to be smitten by the cuter, prettier ones? Iâd love to hear. Please share your thoughts below!
Caption: Bessie Coleman fought prejudice and earthbound discrimination before she took to the skies and etched out a flight plan for success and self-determination. The ahead-of-her-time entrepreneur has been carefully crafted into a doll by the Girls Explore firm. However, the Alexander Doll Companyâs salute to Bessie (an African-American Cissette doll) is more tailored and oh-so glamorous. She is a revisionist delight! [top]
Caption: Oscar winner Hilary Swank portrayed Amelia Earhart in a recent biopic. Other leading ladies like Diane Keaton and Amy Adams have also removed the greasepaint and donned the aviator cap to play this pioneering pilot. [middle]
Caption: Girls Explore is striving to teach young girls that nothing is beyond them. They have launched a doll set of books and figures to open up kids minds and hearts. Amelia Earhart is one of the real-life heroines who have been translated into a toy via this firm. [bottom]
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The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.
The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.
To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:
The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2009 no award presented
2010 Helen Kish
2011 no award presented
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat.
You havenât seen a toy show until youâve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and childrenâs playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.
19 April 2014 â 5 October 2014
A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.