I wasn’t going to post this, but I thought what the heck? It is important to me, so I might as well share it.
To set the scene, I will explain abit about myself. Growing up I had a hol’ load of self esteem issues. I felt that I was too dark to be seen as beautiful and attractive to the opposite sex. I felt that I was too ‘spoilt’ to be seen as a Christian. I felt too ugly and worthless to be seen as anybody significant. I felt like the features that God gave me were a mistake, everything was a mistake. Why didn’t He make me lighter? Why didn’t he make me holier and why am I struggling with things that other christians weren’t struggling with? Why was my hair this tough and nappy? Why were my lips so big?! The list went on and on and on. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. This internal struggle went on for years even in adulthood. I was desperate and even begging for acceptance, somewhere, anywhere. Then one day (well not one day but you get my point), I woke up and finally understand what God sees when He created me. I am beautifully and wonderfully made. Who cares if I didn’t fit in? God created us all to be individuals.
I remember when I was pregnant, my close friend told me that I needed to buy a black doll for my daughter. I rolled my eyes, it really isnt that deep! I remember thinking she was making a massive deal out of nothing. Then I had my daughter, and for the first time I could see that some, not all, but some of the issues I had with my skin tone was largely due to the fact that I didn’t consider my skin tone as beautiful. Back then, we didn’t have the dark skin women, killing it in different industries. Or if we did, they were not celebrated as they are now. From the media around me, I was the ethnic minority….although in Peckham (south east London), I was the majority! My barbie doll was white and I longed for straight hair and a straighter nose. To me, being white was being beautiful, and being dark was not. This must sound so messed up to you guys reading this, but I am being honest with you. That was how I thought.
So I decided that my daughter’s first doll would be a dolly that looked like her. A dolly with afro hair texture, and with chocolate skin. I wanted her to see and understand that there are dolls, people that looked like her around. I didn’t want her to have the same identity issues as I did. Because trust me, It might not make sense to you guys, but I felt it was really important. So my quest to find a black doll started. I don’t know if this would surprise you, because it certainly surprised me. That in this 21st century, walking into large department and toy stores, looking for a black doll was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I couldn’t find one anywhere! I had to resort to the Internet.
I stumbled on this website (here) which was a lifesaver! It had (and still does) have a large collection of black and mixed race dolls. I bought one for my daughter and couldn’t be happier. She carries around in public and it draws attention from people, both black and white. Don’t know why! But I don’t give two hoots!
Yes I am that mother who gave her daughter a black doll as her first doll. She will have other dolls of different races. But her first one had to be a black doll. Yes, I am that mother who actively encourages her daughter to watch Dr McStuffins on Disney Channel because it is the only children’s programme that has a black female lead character. Yes, I am that mother who tells her daughter that her Afro hair is gorgeous everytime I do it, to the point where she now loves her afro hair, can’t stop touching it and shows off to her daddy everytime her hair is big and fluffy.
So that is me. Motherhood has given me the chance to ensure that this little human in my care grows up to be a confident, intelligent woman of God. I can’t keep her from making mistakes but I can try my hardest to ensure that she grows up into a well-rounded woman. I am learning every single day that being a mother is a privilege, more than a right, and I must be thankful for it. It is a massive learning curve for me. It is the hardest thing I have ever done but it is worth it. So are black dolls even necessary? Hell yeah!
*Image from www.icecreamtoysandbooks.com