Daycare Will Only Allow Multi-Cultural Dolls


diverse dollsI'm not a big fan of the government trying to micromanage the way we raise our kids (or the way we do anything else, for that matter), but Colorado's proposal to require daycare centers to provide dolls of at least three different races makes a lot of sense to me. Even if the thought of legally mandated dolls is a little weird. The toddler years are identity-forming in a big way. Little ones need to see themselves represented in the world around them, or they won't feel like they have a place in it.

Even I can remember feeling slighted by toy companies as a kid, and that was just because I had brown hair and every Barbie was blonde. Luckily there were more choices on the market when my daughter was born, so I tried to make sure her doll collection was diverse, especially because my kids are biracial (half-Korean, half-Irish/Welsh/Italian).

But despite my best efforts, there were still plenty of instances when I felt like we were being excluded from the blonde-haired/blue-eyed club. Most of these revolved around the canon of Disney princesses whose popularity reached fever pitch at the exact moment my daughter started to show interest in sparkly things. Bad timing.

To be fair, the Disney princesses are sort of inclusive. Back then, in addition to the Holy Trinity of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Snow White, there was the multi-culti trio of Pocahontas, Mulan, and Jasmine. But guess what? Little tiny girls don't understand why there's no glittery pink Mulan costume on the rack. The Pocahontas doll might have a more historically accurate-ish outfit, but check out that fancy dress on Sleeping Beauty! Mommy, I want that one. With the yellow hair. Come on, put an Asian doll in a ball gown already, I felt like screaming.

Before anybody takes offense, I want to clarify that I'm not anti-Barbie or pro-genderless, race-less rag dolls. I'm just saying that I know what it's like to feel frustration over a lack of toys that look like you, and that I applaud Colorado for taking kids of all colors into consideration.

Do you think making daycares stock diverse dolls is a good idea?


Image via normanack/Flickr

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tinyp... tinypossum

I think it is a stupid idea and cannot imagine little kids care nearly as much about the race of their dolls as their uptight parents do. What is all this heartburn and bellyaching about dolls lately?


I think it's a great idea but "making" people do this is where I have the problem. Who's going to do the "checking" to make sure day-cares have them all? Now we're going to have "doll police?" Don't we have really bad things going on right now to mandate a law like this?

buffa... buffalove23

If a center wants to be accredited in new York this is already a requirement. But its also a requirement to have certain kitchen toys, dress up toys, etc. And JAFE, if Colorado is like new York then it would be a regulation and would be checked when the licensure comes to do an inspection...usually every three months or so. So it wouldn't be so much as a law as just another reg the daycare would have to follow.

nonmember avatar Shandeigh

I think it's dumb. Kids like what toys they like. As a kid in the earlier 70's my favorite doll was a black baby doll... I was white. I didn't feel the need to have a doll that looked like me. I just liked that doll because she looked happy. It didn't make a lick of difference that her skin, hair & eyes were different from me. Kids don't notice that stuff, parents do. Kids love Elmo... and I'm pretty sure that most of them don't have red fur.

nonmember avatar Anon

I believe that daycares should take multi-culturalism into account when they make their purchases of dolls, books, etc. Not sure about making it a law. Not every daycare has the money to run out and buy X number of brown babies. Hopefully they would phase it in, at least. Also, would it apply to daycares that have no nonwhite children? There are some geographical areas where that would not be unlikely.

nonmember avatar R

What Buffalove23 said is correct for TN as well. The more diverse your toys are the higher your daycare is rated.

Kim Gibson

I don't think it is dumb at all. The kids don't care right now, that isn't the point. The issue is making sure that as they are forming their own identity they have something to look at and say, yeah, that is what I look like. Not only should they have racially diverse dolls, but books also. I am white. My husband and kids are white. We can look at dolls and books and the tv and see ourselves over and over again. Why shouldn't every child have the same opportunity, at least in one setting? Why would anyone care that daycares have to do this anyway? They have rules about what size blocks they have to have, how many inches the chair legs can be for certain age groups and hundreds and hundreds of other expectations to meet. Saying that of the hundreds of dolls found in each room, three races must be found is not a big deal at all.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

I think it's a great idea, though not really for identity forming issues. I think it's a great idea because many daycares are multicultural to begin with, and including toys that would appeal to everyone should be a given. Yeah, some kids will play with a doll of a different race or ethnicity and favor it, but it's nice to offer other ethnicities for those who wish for a doll that looks like them.

And if you think kids don't notice, you're wrong. I was given an article in college about a multicultural preschool that had racism run rampant among the kids. It was used for control in play groups, in which white students would claim that the black or Asian students were inferior and therefore had to give up whatever toy/playground equipment they were playing with. And this includes using racial slurs. And if you think it's because they're innocent and don't know it's wrong...think again. The kids conciously hid this behavior from their daycare teachers, because they knew it was wrong. The only reason it was able to be documented was by a third-party observer (sociologist) who the kids had been conditioned to ignore in the classroom. It was a disturbing read. Remember, this was a multicultural daycare...the parents conciously sent their children there to get exposed to different ethnicities. Yet, racism happens.

The really scary part? This article was published in the early 2000's.

Tkelly3 Tkelly3

People who say it doesn't matter; imagine having to go to 5 different stores to find a white Barbie or baby doll---then you have to pay $10 more for it.  Imagine you pick you dd up from daycare or school and there are only brown dolls.  Your baby asks why none of them look like her.  You subscribe to a parenting magazine and all the models (mothers and babies) are black.  The only time a white child appears it's w/a black woman (to suggest the child's biracial?).  You watch your favorite sitcom and the only time a white person appears in a commercial there's ridiculous music playing in the background (hip hop for african americans).  You can't imagine it, because it will never happen.  Yet that's our reality everyday.  

It matters b/c we need to see ourselves represented.  They may not recognize the difference now but it affects them in ways many don't understand.  It teaches them that they are not as beautiful and/or valuable. 

For all you naysayers, it matters.

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