Being the youngest of three and the only girl, I was on the receiving end of getting many dolls. I have a suspicion that my mother was tickled pink when she had me. Not in the sense she wanted to don me in pink attire (especially since blue is her favorite color) but that she could do the doll-thing with someone. As a result I had a host of characters that kept me company as a child, one of which was Barbie, who just celebrated her 53rd birthday on March 9th. Along with Barbie, I had her sister Skipper, her friend Christie (aka “The Black Barbie”) and dolls based on the hottest females of the 1970s.
I also had a small collection of Madame Alexander, Royal Doulton and an assortment of dolls that represented women from around the globe. We entered doll shows where ribbons were earned. My mom and I became very involved in decorating the two dollhouses I had. I enjoyed it, but I know she enjoyed it even more – Mother and daughter bonding at its best.
The marketing for Barbie has come a long way since her introduction in 1959.
When I think of Barbie and what she represents for young girls, I can’t help but think of all the popular dolls that have given some sort of influence as well: Raggedy Ann, Betsy Wetsy, Cabbage Patch, Bratz, Troll dolls, American Girl. One of my dearest high school friends is fulfilling one of her passions with her own line of aspiration dolls for African-American girls called Prodigyrls. I am so proud of her and wanted to shine the spotlight on her today. Here is her story and how she was inspired to create her collection:
When Dr. Daniela Wiggins, an Anesthesiologist in Washington, D.C. went shopping for dolls for her little girl, she was doubly disappointed by the choices. First, she was surprised by the lack of dolls “of color.” Most dolls on the market were modeled after Caucasians and did not represent her own heritage as an African-American. Those that did have dark skin appeared to be nothing more than darker versions of the “white” dolls, lacking realistic features that would reflect her own image. Second, many of the most popular dolls on the market were branded with names and personas that were out of touch with the values that most parents want to instill. Rather than being focused on high levels of self-worth, the importance of education, and the sanctity of a strong family, many of the dolls exemplified the worst traits in modern society. From wearing inappropriate clothing to using inappropriate language, the dolls did not conform with her dreams for her young daughter.
So Dr. Wiggins took matters into her own hands. The result is the ever-growing collection of Prodigyrls, educational dolls that reflect the Talent and Beauty of African-American Girls. The goal of parent company PRODIGYRLS LLC, named by combining Prodigy + Girls, is to create fun dolls that inspire girls to dream.