african american doll for african american child? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 06-18-2009, 07:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hey mamas,

just wanting some advice on this issue.

we went to Target today to choose a doll for an african american little girl. It occurred to me that I really didn't know which to buy.

I should have known that the selection would be limited on AA dolls : but I was still shocked when I started looking and found hardly ANYTHING.

We are caucasian and I'm still not sure what message I would send by choosing a caucasian doll OR an african american doll. Was wondering if any AA moms or moms of AA daughters could chime in?

I considered choosing a Disney princess and perhaps choosing Jasmine (who's neither AA or caucasian) but they didn't have any Jasmines either WHY? I thought they were just out of jasmine, but I looked on the back of the box and it looked like they only made the white princesses for a lot of the toys. I only found Jasmine in a crummy little figurine.

I only saw one AA Barbie and she was wearing a bikini (beach party doll). I wanted something with a fancy dress. I *did* see a couple AA baby dolls, like Baby Alive and Little Mommy. not what we were looking for.

I ended up choosing an AA Groovy Girl, Honest Hala:
http://www.amazon.com/Manhattan-Toy-.../dp/B000U3MS8Y

Did I do the right thing? Part of me thinks its important to give her something that "looks like her" and acknowledge and honor that. Part of me thinks perhaps its weird that I sought that out??? DD has dolls of all different races, but predominantly caucasian. She does have AA and asian groovy girls dolls as well.

FWIW, this little girl does not have much in the way of toys. A friend suggested I bypass the doll idea all together, but DH really wanted her to have a doll. When buying for an AA friend of DD's, I'd actually be concerned they would already HAVE Honest Hala (since the AA choices were so limited), but in this case, I'm certain she does not have it.

I am also planning to make tutus for both her and her little friend she always plays with.

Not too late to return it (so please share your thoughts).

XOXO
B

P.S. DD was with me and irritated I wouldn't buy the girl with the pink outfit. I chose the AA Honest Hala (who wears blue). Another realization for me as a mom. Jeez louise, it must be frustrating to not find ONE barbie doll that's AA in a fancy dress then when you find the AA doll, she's only wearing blue. Caucasian girls get to choose a doll with all different color dresses, styles, etc. ARGH. I think I've found my new soapbox.....

And I thought there was supposed to be an AA Disney princess soon? Is that ever happening? If so, will they actually MAKE toys of her, or will she go the way of Jasmine? :

mama to Milena Anjali (4/26/06) and Vincent Asher (4/13/09) ~ married to the love of my life since 2002.
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#2 of 23 Old 06-18-2009, 09:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by BethSLP View Post
hey mamas,

just wanting some advice on this issue.

we went to Target today to choose a doll for an african american little girl. It occurred to me that I really didn't know which to buy.

I should have known that the selection would be limited on AA dolls : but I was still shocked when I started looking and found hardly ANYTHING.

We are caucasian and I'm still not sure what message I would send by choosing a caucasian doll OR an african american doll. Was wondering if any AA moms or moms of AA daughters could chime in?

I considered choosing a Disney princess and perhaps choosing Jasmine (who's neither AA or caucasian) but they didn't have any Jasmines either WHY? I thought they were just out of jasmine, but I looked on the back of the box and it looked like they only made the white princesses for a lot of the toys. I only found Jasmine in a crummy little figurine.

I only saw one AA Barbie and she was wearing a bikini (beach party doll). I wanted something with a fancy dress. I *did* see a couple AA baby dolls, like Baby Alive and Little Mommy. not what we were looking for.

I ended up choosing an AA Groovy Girl, Honest Hala:
http://www.amazon.com/Manhattan-Toy-.../dp/B000U3MS8Y

Did I do the right thing? Part of me thinks its important to give her something that "looks like her" and acknowledge and honor that. Part of me thinks perhaps its weird that I sought that out??? DD has dolls of all different races, but predominantly caucasian. She does have AA and asian groovy girls dolls as well.

FWIW, this little girl does not have much in the way of toys. A friend suggested I bypass the doll idea all together, but DH really wanted her to have a doll. When buying for an AA friend of DD's, I'd actually be concerned they would already HAVE Honest Hala (since the AA choices were so limited), but in this case, I'm certain she does not have it.

I am also planning to make tutus for both her and her little friend she always plays with.

Not too late to return it (so please share your thoughts).

XOXO
B

P.S. DD was with me and irritated I wouldn't buy the girl with the pink outfit. I chose the AA Honest Hala (who wears blue). Another realization for me as a mom. Jeez louise, it must be frustrating to not find ONE barbie doll that's AA in a fancy dress then when you find the AA doll, she's only wearing blue. Caucasian girls get to choose a doll with all different color dresses, styles, etc. ARGH. I think I've found my new soapbox.....

And I thought there was supposed to be an AA Disney princess soon? Is that ever happening? If so, will they actually MAKE toys of her, or will she go the way of Jasmine? :

I hear you loud and clear. Have you considered making your dd the doll of her dreams?
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#3 of 23 Old 06-18-2009, 10:45 PM
 
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It can be frustrating. And some kids care while others don't. A lot of children actually prefer a doll with a different skin tone because it's "interesting" but when you are a minority it can be really irritating to never have a doll that looks like you. I'm mixed, so I always had that problem, but I usually just bought some white dolls and called it good. You can always buy more than one doll and switch the clothes out. Then your dd gets a toy out of it too.

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#4 of 23 Old 06-19-2009, 08:51 PM
 
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I am AA, although I am not a mom yet (#1 in the oven )

I think that you did the right thing. Race is such a touchy issue for a lot of ppl, and depending on how this child is being raised (her age, how "aware" she is about her skin color, and other ppl's reaction to it negative or positive) she may or may not put any importance on the complexion of the doll.

So, depending on the little girl, maybe she will care more about the outfit than she will about the complexion.

Honest Hala is a pretty doll for a little girl. I think she will like it whether or not she even notices you went out of your way to locate a doll that looked like her.
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#5 of 23 Old 06-20-2009, 02:03 AM
 
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I'm kicking myself because I did not buy DD a doll I found the other day that 'looked like her' By the time I went back it was GONE.
(DD is 2 and I wanted to find a Cabbage Patch for her that looks like her.)

my soapbox is I've really given up on one that REALLY looks like her and will happily settle for this one that is a bald newborn with brown eyes and tan skin.
I have found ones that are dark-skinned AA. I have found ones that are tan with brown eyes, but with straight, black hair. (like they're "supposed to be" Latino/Hispanic, I guess)

DD is light-skinned AA mix (all my babies are "cappucino" I can say that, I'm the mom) with dark brown curly hair. At this point I'll take a bald, tan doll with brown eyes.

She does have one baby with her skin tone and brown eyes. It was wearing a hat when I bought it. Under the hat, it had BLONDE hair.

I have yet to *ever* see a person with that color combination naturally. Doesn't mean it CAN'T happen, but come on, was I totally wrong to 'expect' brown or black hair?

and it's not just cabbage patch babies. I hardly see ANY dolls that are 'tan' with curly, brown hair. It's like the only races/color combos/whatever that exist are blue-eyed blond "Caucasian" babies, full AA (very dark with brown eyes) or *maybe* you find an "Asian" baby once in awhile.

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#6 of 23 Old 06-20-2009, 02:49 AM
 
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nak

i think it's great you did that. we are brown (rather, olive... anyway) not black but i always appreciate it when people make an effort to get my kids brown or black-haired dolls. now we have quite the collection. it's all the more important because they ARE hard to find so you know someone went to the trouble.

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#7 of 23 Old 06-26-2009, 03:15 PM
 
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I like this site, http://www.sleepysoft.com/site/480020/page/536565 as a resource for black dolls (they also have asian, hispanic, and other dolls on the site)....my son so far isnt showing much interest in dolls, so i havent ordered from them yet, but probably will in the future. They have great prices too.


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#8 of 23 Old 06-26-2009, 04:48 PM
 
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I've had a frustrating time at Target as well. Especially since I looked around and they had pics of aa families and children on their displays (around the store) but no aa dolls on the shelves!

I worked for CVS pharmacy Headquarters for some time and this is what I learned... At some stores they will have a 4' section of 'ethnic hair products' some have 8' and all the way up to 16' of the store for this product. It comes down to demographics. Not sure where they get their demographics from though, maybe census or private marketing people...

My guess is that you and I were shopping at target stores that have not properly stocked their stores, ie stocked for a small demographic of aa families.

I voiced my concerns with CVS... What if I am an AA customer searching for my usual hair product and *gasp* go to a store that I don't live near? I told them that as a customer I would pretty upset that I couldn't my product because I was in the wrong neighborhood, etc. They paid me little concern And some stores went out without even the minimum of 4' ethnic hair products.

Now target upset me as well because I want my kids to have dolls that look like several ethnicities. However I would prefer to make that decision for my own children. If I was buying a doll for someone I would probably get one that appeared to be the same ethnicity as the child who the present was for. Unfortunately doing otherwise might offend someone. I guess I would leave buying dolls of other ethnicities to the parent. Weird but what can you do?

I also got a groovy girl for the little girl I was shopping for, my neice. Crazy that these marketing 'geniuses' can't fathom that non-aa families would want to purchase a doll that appears to be aa or latino.
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#9 of 23 Old 06-26-2009, 05:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone! I've learned a lot by reading this thread. I'm glad its not perceived as weird that I sought out an AA doll for her.

Just an update: She loved the doll. She loved the tutu even more. Her and her friend put on their tutus and ran around the house like maniacs when they got them. Her mom said they would have a problem on the following Monday because she would want to wear it to school

My DH was really thrilled for her and glad to be able to bring the gifts. He gave me the full report (as I've never met the little girl myself, its a child he does speech therapy with).

I think the Groovy Girl was a good choice because she can sleep with it, cuddle it, etc. Also, she has a baby in the house, so Barbies have small pieces that may not be safe for the little one.

XOXO
B

mama to Milena Anjali (4/26/06) and Vincent Asher (4/13/09) ~ married to the love of my life since 2002.
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#10 of 23 Old 06-26-2009, 10:53 PM
 
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If you don't know about this resource... The American Girl website has a section where you can pick hair, skin, eye color to match your child. From my white perspective they seem to have a good selection lol They're kinda spendy, but.... You get exactly what you want. Maybe a special holiday present from grandma/grandpa or something....? Anyway, just wanted you to know you're not limited to the selection at target

http://store.americangirl.com/agshop.../LeftMenu/TRUE

ETA: The Bitty Baby section has fewer choices, but still more than regular stores.

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#11 of 23 Old 07-03-2009, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by BethSLP View Post

P.S. DD was with me and irritated I wouldn't buy the girl with the pink outfit. I chose the AA Honest Hala (who wears blue). Another realization for me as a mom. Jeez louise, it must be frustrating to not find ONE barbie doll that's AA in a fancy dress then when you find the AA doll, she's only wearing blue. Caucasian girls get to choose a doll with all different color dresses, styles, etc. ARGH. I think I've found my new soapbox.....
We bought an AA doll for DD's first doll (we're white) because it had the most beautiful outfit. Vibrant red, when the choices for the white dolls were blue or pink. We wanted to stay out of the gender thing (it was a baby doll), and the red was most beautiful... but it really must suck to go in looking for an AA doll and not even have the choice of colors. As it was, I was a bit irked red wasn't an option for the white dolls, but we just got the AA one; I can't imagine realizing you just had NO choice if you wanted one that looked like your kid.
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#12 of 23 Old 08-05-2009, 11:25 PM
 
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I remember being VERY frustrated with my parents when they bought me a white (blue eyed, blonde haired) Kid Sister (back in the 80s ) and I also was always mildly annoyed that the black dolls didn't look like me either. I knew they couldn't find the black one, which also annoyed me, so they'd had to settle for the white one because I wouldn't hush up about the Kid Sister doll. Had anyone found be a doll with tan skin and curly dark hair, I'd've been over the moon. Glad the little girl liked her doll

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#13 of 23 Old 09-02-2009, 12:22 AM
 
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Check out dollslikeme.com!!
It's a GREAT website with ALL kinds of dolls of various colors & ethnicities and disabilities and everything.

Many of them are even cloth dolls, and many of those are even at a good price.

My son is black & he has a black baby boy doll that we got him and a white baby girl doll that just sort of appeared from somewhere. And some little posable dolls that are black & some lego people that are white. He *definitely* notices skin color and is very invested in it (he's 2 1/2, but this has been true for a long time).

It's great, too, taht his best friend has two brown/black dolls (she's white). Then he's not the only one with brown dolls and they both see it as normal.
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#14 of 23 Old 09-17-2009, 01:56 AM
 
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Originally Posted by prescottchels View Post
If you don't know about this resource... The American Girl website has a section where you can pick hair, skin, eye color to match your child. From my white perspective they seem to have a good selection lol They're kinda spendy, but.... You get exactly what you want. Maybe a special holiday present from grandma/grandpa or something....? Anyway, just wanted you to know you're not limited to the selection at target

http://store.americangirl.com/agshop.../LeftMenu/TRUE

ETA: The Bitty Baby section has fewer choices, but still more than regular stores.

Thats just what I was going to suggest. I am not AA I am cauasian, but I am not a blue eyed blonde. I have black-brown hair and green eyes and I have a difficult time finding dolls that looked *just* like me. I know hair color isn't as hard to match as skin color, but 90% of my barbies and baby dolls were blonde.

I had American Girl dolls and I loved them the historical ones have great lessons about friendship in the books. They are so positive I just adore them! You can match your hair color, hair style, race and eye color they are really cool.
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#15 of 23 Old 09-17-2009, 07:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BethSLP View Post
hey mamas,

just wanting some advice on this issue.

we went to Target today to choose a doll for an african american little girl. It occurred to me that I really didn't know which to buy.

I should have known that the selection would be limited on AA dolls : but I was still shocked when I started looking and found hardly ANYTHING.

We are caucasian and I'm still not sure what message I would send by choosing a caucasian doll OR an african american doll. Was wondering if any AA moms or moms of AA daughters could chime in?

I considered choosing a Disney princess and perhaps choosing Jasmine (who's neither AA or caucasian) but they didn't have any Jasmines either WHY? I thought they were just out of jasmine, but I looked on the back of the box and it looked like they only made the white princesses for a lot of the toys. I only found Jasmine in a crummy little figurine.

I only saw one AA Barbie and she was wearing a bikini (beach party doll). I wanted something with a fancy dress. I *did* see a couple AA baby dolls, like Baby Alive and Little Mommy. not what we were looking for.

I ended up choosing an AA Groovy Girl, Honest Hala:
http://www.amazon.com/Manhattan-Toy-.../dp/B000U3MS8Y

Did I do the right thing? Part of me thinks its important to give her something that "looks like her" and acknowledge and honor that. Part of me thinks perhaps its weird that I sought that out??? DD has dolls of all different races, but predominantly caucasian. She does have AA and asian groovy girls dolls as well.

FWIW, this little girl does not have much in the way of toys. A friend suggested I bypass the doll idea all together, but DH really wanted her to have a doll. When buying for an AA friend of DD's, I'd actually be concerned they would already HAVE Honest Hala (since the AA choices were so limited), but in this case, I'm certain she does not have it.

I am also planning to make tutus for both her and her little friend she always plays with.

Not too late to return it (so please share your thoughts).

XOXO
B

P.S. DD was with me and irritated I wouldn't buy the girl with the pink outfit. I chose the AA Honest Hala (who wears blue). Another realization for me as a mom. Jeez louise, it must be frustrating to not find ONE barbie doll that's AA in a fancy dress then when you find the AA doll, she's only wearing blue. Caucasian girls get to choose a doll with all different color dresses, styles, etc. ARGH. I think I've found my new soapbox.....

And I thought there was supposed to be an AA Disney princess soon? Is that ever happening? If so, will they actually MAKE toys of her, or will she go the way of Jasmine? :
Disney is coming out with a black princess. She is a creole (aka possibly mixed race) and she will be a frog princess. The controversy so far is that her prince will not be black, but I think middle eastern.

In terms of AA dolls for AA girls, I'm AA and I had both white and black dolls, and some I couldn't tell what race they were. I grew up in the 1980s, so black dolls were a bit hard to come by, and I grew up in a predominantly white area, so the stores did not cater to the AA community, there wasn't a demand, I remember none of my white friends had black dolls, like I had white ones. I remember once while shopping for a cabbage patch kid in a store (when they were all the rage) there was only one doll left and it was black. The white mother's refused to buy it, and were desperate for white dolls, obviously my mother had no problem with me having to buy it, and it was the one time she didn't have to fight (not literally) over a cabbage patch doll in a store (we went to five stores looking for one that day). I will say that I'm pregnant now (and my husband is white) and it will be concern for me to make sure my child will have access to a multitude of dolls.

I now always think of the doll test http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG7U1QsUd1g and my childhood, and I am scared my daughter will end up hating herself because she doesn't look "the norm".
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#16 of 23 Old 09-17-2009, 07:29 AM
 
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I remember being VERY frustrated with my parents when they bought me a white (blue eyed, blonde haired) Kid Sister (back in the 80s ) and I also was always mildly annoyed that the black dolls didn't look like me either. I knew they couldn't find the black one, which also annoyed me, so they'd had to settle for the white one because I wouldn't hush up about the Kid Sister doll. Had anyone found be a doll with tan skin and curly dark hair, I'd've been over the moon. Glad the little girl liked her doll

Yeah black dolls of the 80's pretty much looked with white dolls with tan and had bone straight hair. I still can't find a doll for my little sister that appears to have curly hair and dark skin, they all have bone straight hair. I found a doll that looks like Beyonce once. But most little black girls don't have blonde hair
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#17 of 23 Old 09-20-2009, 11:48 PM
 
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ITA that it was the specific Target that you were at. At my Target, almost ALL of the dolls are AA. It is hard to find an Hispanic, Asian or sometimes white doll there. My neighborhood is almost 90% AA.

Stores are a business, they stock what sells there. They can't carry a wide selection of specifics in a B&M store. It makes good multi-cultural teaching sense to do so, but not good business sense. They need turn over. I would look at the websites listed from PP for the future. I know I'll be bookmarking them for my bi-racial daughter.

Right now she has the "tan" Baby Stella doll and a white Baby Born. She loves the baby Born because she pees! But until the pee-pee baby doll came into the house, she was all about feeding baby Stella.

I highly recommend Baby Stella in any color for very little girls (18 mo-4 years). She's adorable and soft and comes in multiple colors!
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#18 of 23 Old 10-11-2009, 05:32 AM
 
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The Super Why show's princess is black, that might be a good choice next time.
http://www.pbs.org/parents/superwhy/...haracters.html

I was really lucky, when my niece turned one, I found black cabbage patch twins for her, they were super cute.

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#19 of 23 Old 10-12-2009, 01:59 AM
 
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I love it when someone puts so much caring thoughtfulness into a gift for a child! There were very very very few options for dolls of color when I was a child and my mother would get Indian dolls whenever she went to Canada. (We are part Indian, fwiw.) People would invariably give me big, blonde, blue-eyed dolls as gifts and my mother would throw them away or re-gift them. I never had a fashion doll (a la Barbie) until Tuesday Taylor came along when I was about 11 or so, though I did have a Christie doll head (Christie was black).

As for my own children, I basically go on the assumption that other people won't make the effort and will give my children white dolls, so I make sure that the dolls I buy for them are dolls of color. Groovy Girls have been a fun, fanciful stand by that aren't too expensive and which also make nice matching "friendship gifts" for us to give to friends. I bought my dd an American Girl Bitty Baby -- the Asian one actually because I didn't like the coloring of the AA ones -- when she was 3.5yo and she still loves it at 7.5yo. I bought my kids the American Girl Bitty Twins (one girl, one boy as my ds likes dolls too!) and those are the AA ones with curly hair. My dd also has the American Girl doll Kaya which I bought for her as her first "big girl" doll. I bought my ds a Cabbage Patch doll but was dismayed to find that it was infused with the smell of baby powder and that was a deal breaker... it's been hidden away for over a year now, but has been "recovered" occasionally when they go foraging about. We have Asian dolls, Native American dolls, Hispanic dolls, differently abled dolls... we celebrate them all!
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#20 of 23 Old 10-13-2009, 02:12 AM
 
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I was thinking of this thread just tonight when I was out with my daughter. We were at Toys R Us (teehee) and they had an entire aisle of Madame Alexander dolls in varying shades and hairstyles. I immediately thought of this thread, that I saw a few weeks ago, because I know how hard it is to find dolls. Anyhoo, online I only see six different ethnicities, but in the store there were four different darker shades, with straight to curliest hair, and two or three lighter shades. We love American Girl, but they are kind of pricey, and our youngest has the Target brand of 18" doll, now that we've seen the MA brand, we'll probably go there next.

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#21 of 23 Old 10-16-2009, 12:04 PM
 
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I'm pretty sure Target and other stores also do the demographics thing. I grew up in Tacoma WA and its a very mixed bag there. Theres a lot of white, AA's, asians, hispanics, etc and lots of mixed families as well. The Target and Toys R Us there has lots of varieties of colors and whatnot of dolls and barbies and such. In fact, I remember as a kid I couldn't find a white one I liked because there wasn't a lot of options and I wanted a barbie with tan skin and curly dark brown hair. My mom said no, pick one that looks like you

Where I live now, an hour north, not far from Seattle and a small city, the majority of people are white. I remember looking at info on schools and seeing how the Tacoma schools tended to have a pretty even division of races, while ours are about 90% white (or more!). The Target here has very very few non-white baby dolls or barbies.

I can understand it too, but it is rather annoying. Especially when you know there ARE non-white kids and their families who live in the area.

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#22 of 23 Old 10-24-2009, 11:27 PM
 
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Another doll resource My Twinn Dolls, http://www.mytwinn.com/Custom-Twinn-Doll are custom made to look like the child they are for. A little expensive though I did see some coupon codes on a recent catalog of theirs. They do have some non-custom dolls as well.

ETA: Here are some coupons on their website good for free merchandise with purchase. http://www.mytwinn.com/s.nl/sc.17/category.27335/.f
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#23 of 23 Old 10-25-2009, 09:17 AM
 
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I love the American Girl twin dolls, and Corolle makes quite a few black baby dolls.

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