Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Doll Thing

If you're a parent of color, an Asian American parent, and/or a parent of a multiracial child, I'm sure you've tackled this one (or will when your kid's old enough): The Doll Thing. Sure, you've got your library stocked with multiculti picture books, there are a couple ethnic-pride onesies in the kid's drawer, you make sure you're as surrounded by the diverse faces of family and friends as possible... And then you go to the big-box toy store....

I've already written at length about trying to find toys that reflect back at The Pumpkin, or at least reflect some sort of diversity, on my solo blog, so you can click here to read that. (Though, if you've visited it before, you know the whole "Apple doesn't do comments" thing, so you can post comments about what I wrote in that post here on this RD post, if you wanna.)

But I'm bringing this up today because Jenna at BabyGadget is currently in the same quandary, looking for an Asian baby doll for her own hapa baby, and has posted the not-quite-satisfying results of her search (with pictures!) [via Blogging Baby].

[On a related note, Dutch, he of the "buy locally handcrafted wooden toys" school, recently posted a funny bit on The Blogfathers about his misadventure taking his babygirl into a Toys R Us. The title should give you a clue: "I have seen the future, and it's either really pink, or kind of slutty." Heh. And you can tell already that he's talking about that nasty Bratz line, which, problematically, happens to be one of the easiest places to find Asian-ish (or I guess in this case really they're "Oriental") "fashion dolls."]

So, in trying to find dolls that reflect back at our little ones, what's your story? What are your faves? What's on your "um, no, I really don't think so" list?


Ji In said...

As an aunt (but not yet a mom), one of my favorites for my nephews (one hapa haole, one Vietnamese) is the Fisher Price Little People line, because they have some little Asian-looking people.

Or if those aren't up your alley, then hey, how about some angry yellow ninja Legos?

Deanna said...

I was in this quandary myself growing up. I had a couple of Asian baby dolls, but I also had the licensed-character dolls of the era, like Strawberry Shortcake. As a kid, you never think about why the redhead who wears strawberries doesn't have a friend who looks like you. I did have an "Oriental" Barbie, and I also had a Cabbage Patch doll (and you can actually buy an Asian version of that, though I didn't choose that one) that was a brunette.

Since my daughter is 3/4 white and 1/4 Japanese, she will have an easier time picking a dolly that "looks like her." But I totally recommend the American Girl dolls - aside from the character dolls, they also offer an Asian baby doll, and the option to "create your own doll", where you can pick different face combinations in the effort to make the doll look more like the girl. The only downside is that an American Girl doll is pricey ($40 something for the baby doll, $80 something for the full-size doll), though it is good quality.

weigook saram said...

We found a Cabbage Patch doll that looks like my (half-Asian) daughter.

I also like the Groovy Girls dolls, but I think they're for slightly older kids.

Sara said...

My daughter is a hapa too, I'm White (mostly Irish) and her father is Chinese...I had the same worries about dolls for her, even though she's only 13 months old...

I did find that Chinasprout has a really nice selection of Asianeque dolls, although some can be a bit pricey...I really love their line of
Yu Sai WaWa dolls (sort of an Asian barbie)


AmericanFamily said...

I posted these links over at Baby Gadget, but if you are looking for Asian dolls here are a few places to look. Personally, I like the Groovy Girls the best too.

Real Kidz has mixed race dolls. http://www.real-kidz.com/index.html

Dolls Like Me http://www.dollslikeme.com/

ChinaSprout has some Asian dolls. http://www.chinasprout.com

Ethnic Dolls Depot: http://www.ethnicdollsdepot.com/

Dolls So Real http://dollssoreal.zoovy.com/product/B35000

Culture for Kids or Asia for kids

M said...

wow! Look at all of those options! Even if the Bratz exist, our kids will feel less invisible and more included when they see themselves and their friends reflected in the plush faces of these new dolls. We didin't have all of these to choose from in the 80s.

Marcie said...

I bought a Korean barbie doll, dressed in a hanbok, for my daughter. Of course it looks like Barbie with dark hair, but oh well.

L said...

You know, I haven't even thought of getting my daughter an Asian doll. She has an abundance of stuffed animals (mostly dogs) and never seems to show any interest in the doll section when we go to Target. My mother insists on buying her one of those realistic looking (and acting) babies but those freak me out.

I will check out some of the links below. Maybe I will buy her one and see if she likes it. It's nice that there are more options now than when I was growing up. I am pretty sure all my dolls were white and blond.

Sizwe_X said...

"Real Kidz has mixed race dolls. http://www.real-kidz.com/index.html"

Yeah, I picked one of these up for my baby because I thought they were cool, (we didn't know the sex). Turns out we have a little man!

Deirdre said...

Because I have a son (soon two of 'em), the doll issue hasn't been a big deal. He does have one Chinese doll named Ling-Ling (original, yes?), but the main reason for its existence in our house is because it says things in Mandarin and English when you press on its hands. I was a little disappointed that all the "Language Littles" dolls in that line were female because little boys can grow up to be bilingual too. Hopefully.

I'm likewise annoyed with the fact that I cannot get him a "boy" hapa doll, though that's mainly because I like the idea of the mixed-race dolls more than because he'd actually play with it.

DAB said...

I have to give Bratz credit because they're one of the most diverse lines out there. Their 1st line had Black, Asian, Hispanic & white dolls. Nobody else had ever done that before.

They had the Asian doll from the beginning, and she wasn't considered "Oriental", so I'm not sure what you meant by it.

And for anyone out there interested in Barbies, they made a Rio Lea doll that looked like Lucy Liu. She had very small eyes and was probably the most realistic Asian doll they ever made.

asiangarden said...

It's so hard to find an asian doll in the US with out paying an arm and a leg for it!! Were as go to walmart and get a really nice white doll for $8 or so!!

Rhiann said...

I haven't had the problem of finding Asian dolls (baby, pre-pubescent girl, adult Barbiesque female, even a Chinese boy doll, at Christmas Tree Shops of all unlikely places). But here is the problem...my Chinese daughter wants nothing to do with them, she invariably chooses to play with the WASPy looking dolls we also have. My Russian daughter (blonde, light-eyed, light-skinned) tends to gravitate towards the Asian dolls. What is this all about? Opposites attract? Wanting what you don't have? Female perversity? Hijacking adoptive parent correctness?