My daughter and I made a promise. Two weeks ago, she saw a doll in Walmart that she wanted, but didn’t get at the time. Now, of course, she thought that she could ask for it the next day and receive. I told her no and made a deal that if she had a good week at school (which is pretty normal for her), we would go to the store and get the doll. She was excited and did very well with not mentioning it to me all week (I was more shocked at that part, lol).
So, fast forward to Friday. We are at the store and we prepare to pick up the doll. To my surprise, she wants the Caucasian doll. I was a little surprised at first, and thought that between the first time she saw the doll and Friday, she might have not cared about the color of the doll. To my surprise, she remembered exactly what doll she wanted, and despite my minimal efforts of persuasion to pick the brown colored doll, she refused.
So, we walked out of Walmart that day, Caucasian doll in hand and my child grinning from ear to ear. Did it bother me? Not really. I left that battle in the toy aisle at Walmart because when her mind was made up, it was made up, and I didn’t want to taint the experience of her receiving a toy “just because it’s Friday” on a petty argument about the skin color of a doll that she truthfully doesn’t even understand the depth of. I tried to ask her about why she didn’t want the doll who’s skin color matched hers, and she didn’t really have an answer (I didn’t really expect her to, but this kid surprises me sometimes); so I left the topic alone for the day, and let her enjoy her doll.
That interaction taught me something about my daughter that I didn’t realize was so prevalent in children at such a young age. Kynn does not care what color her dolls are; she only cares that she can play with one. She loves Elsa and Anna just as much as she loves Moana and Tiana. She has brown skinned dolls, and also Caucasian dolls. Kynn doesn’t pick sides, she’s just a kid and likes to play. She wants to be like the kids she sees on commercials and YouTube videos who have these toys, and if it is a white doll, she wants that doll; if she’s brown, she wants that doll. She’s very exact in her intentions and wants, and I can’t fault her for the specifications she wants on toys based on what she sees.
I felt a little guilty for trying to push the agenda of “why don’t you get the brown doll” on her, once I realized the oddly placed “what does it matter?!” look on her face, lol. For me, there was a deeper meaning to it all, but it also led me to a deeper realization about my daughter.
There are so many avenues of life in which brown girls are under- and misrepresented in society. I want my daughter to be able to see a doll that she identifies with, and if it’s not a doll that she identifies with via color, I believe a deeper understanding of what she’s exposed to daily comes into question. I notice a lot of the movies she watches, or YouTube videos that are viral and popular don’t have many girls of color. She sees the things she sees on television commercials or YouTube ads and wants exactly what she sees; and oftentimes that may not be a doll of color.
I really just want her to be able to understand that dolls of color hold a special place in our hearts. To look on shelves and see a doll in the likeness of our favorite Disney princess, or our childhood idols is a privilege that some thought we’d never see, and I want to be able to represent that in my household and in any way that I can. But, I also have to understand that as a toddler, Kynn does not understand nor care the importance of that just yet, and in time, she will evolve and understand.
With children, if you want them to identify with something, you have to expose them to it. I believe that one should not force certain things in children, because they are very smart and can form opinions about that type of behavior quicker than we think. I think it’s about immersing your child in all cultural opportunities, paying attention to the things they enjoy and show them the many sides to it, and even embracing what they choose; even when it’s not what you want them to choose.