This Mom Thinks Boys Should Play With Dolls -- So She Created a Line They'll Love

Wonder crew

Laurel Wider became an entrepreneur out of necessity. When her son returned from preschool one afternoon with a disturbing message, the mom and psychotherapist felt compelled to create a something that could help not only her little boy, but also children around the world.


"My son, literally, came home from preschool with this message that boys aren’t supposed to cry," recalls Wider, who notes that what her child was picking up in school was in complete opposition with the environment she'd created at home. "I'm very much about 'feelings are okay' and I encourage talking about everything and anything.

"Yet, it's a pervasive thing in our culture, and these stereotypes limit both boys and girls. As a psychotherapist, talking with clients, I'm very aware of gender and identity development issues, but when he came home at 3 years of age and said that, it really hit me over the head." 

Wider began to consider how attuned society has become to the needs of girls -- and the desire to expand the way they think about their potential -- and found herself wondering: But what about the boys?

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"I started thinking about how much play impacts children and how toys have the power to teach," says Wider, who surveyed the array of toys marketed to boys and found it lacking.

After interviewing parents and teachers, the creative mom took it upon herself to design a doll that would merge the allure of an action figure with the emotional connection of a stuffed animal, and Wonder Crew was born.

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Wider's "Crewmates" collection includes a builder, a chef, a superhero, and a dino-explorer named "Theo," an African-American doll, in the very near future. From race to gender, Crewmates will ultimately represent all kids, the toy-maker notes.

wonder crew

Wider adds that her creation not only encourages children of both genders to embrace their nurturing side, but also will hopefully aid in removing the stigma that's often attached to the notion of boys playing with dolls.

"Doll doesn't have to be a four-letter word," she says. "The goal is to go mainstream and reach a wider audience. We can show empathy and compassion a lot of different ways. We can mix masculinity with nurturing."

Wider says even for people who've bristled at the idea of boys embracing dolls see the Crewmates as an acceptable way for little guys to explore this realm of play.

To further foster kids' imaginations, each doll arrives with a matching piece of adventure gear for the child to wear during their pretend play. Unlike action figures, whose muscled physiques are unattainable, Wider points out that kids can feel like they're on the same level as their Crewmate.

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"They're teammates," says Wider, who adds that her overall dream is to empower kids to go anywhere and be anything. "Let's leave play open as it should be."

The entrepreneur says she was "blown away" by the success of her Kickstarter campaign, which she viewed as proof that other parents and caregivers were looking for a toy that builds emotional intelligence, imagination, and confidence.

Wider looks forward to expanding Wonder Crew's line to give all children a buddy who brings out the best in them.


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