*I'm publishing the draft because I won't have time to revise soon*
In 2007 Polly Pocket wanted to "revolutionize" the girl-toy market:
"Polly Pocket(TM) Polly Wheels(TM) Cars � Polly Pocket(TM) makes a HUGE statement with the first ever die-cast vehicles designed just for girls!"
But they left girls of color behind.
Dawn writes about her dilemma here: it's easy for us to vote with our own dollars and to gatekeep for little ones, to surround them with dolls of color and the occasional Caucasian doll until they develop an interest in a line less inclusive, and until someone else is doing the purchasing.
An aa friend insisted after the "brown Cinderella incident" -- "that NOT Cinderella! I no yike her!!!" -- that I cannot prevent this from happening, either the having or the temporary preferring, and that I cannot take away the white dolls purchased by other people. I can't make my daughter not want dolls that don't look like her and, according to my friend, I can't make her like
dolls who do. Said friend recalls getting a black Barbie for Christmas when she was three. She cried because she didn't get "Real Barbie." (As an aside, this friend has turned into a feminist activist and the smartest person I know about just about everything, including race, so I'm hopeful).
Fine, but why can't we MAKE Mattel make African American Polly Pockets?
Something is very wrong when a seller describes "Shani" as "African American or Hispanic Polly Pocket." Something is even more wrong when a search for another POC PP turns up "Postcard Series" Japanese and Chinese Polly Pocket globetrotting pals. Now that's cosmopolitanism.
In their defense, the Loving Family line offers choices (and because they come two family members to a set, can be combined creatively). The success of Mattel's Snap n Style dolls should indicate to that there is a ready market for clothing-changing dolls in several skin tones. And the Polly Pocket aisle was crowded with aa moms and daughters last night.
Black girls are expected to imagine themselves into little plastic white girls in the way that the movie industry operates on the notion that young women (and later, adult female fans of action films) can imagine themselves into male heroes but the reverse is not expected. We need to change that/those expectations.
While I'm not a fan of dolls that actually teach consumerism so explicitly (Polly has a gazillion outfits! Polly owns a bus!!! Be like Polly and own a gazillion outfits and a bus!!) my daughter is, and at the least, they could offer one that looks like her.
It's past time Polly Pocket had a black friend. I just hope Miss I doesn't outgrow Tamara before they make her.
As I was writing this, my daughter saw a commercial for Barbie Models and yelled "Look, there's my MOM!" If it isn't about race, I can't imagine what that's about.