Love her or hate her, you have to admit that Barbie has serious staying power. With over fifty years and hundreds of incarnations under her teeny fashionable belt, she's probably not going anywhere anytime soon.

Personally, I'm torn: As a feminist I worry about the doll's unrealistic body shape and emphasis on being pretty, but I also try to respect my daughter's play and her interest in say, Fashionista Barbie. I played with Barbies myself as a child, seemingly without any self-esteem hangups or lack of well-rounded interests. In fact, I mostly remember marrying them off to my New Kids on the Block dolls, and my brother periodically beheading them.

For now, I'm following my daughter's lead, who has decided, for now anyway, that Barbie is "weird" and enthusiastically helped me put together this list of dolls that are diverse and smart and look like little girls instead of buxom blonde fashionistas.


One World Dolls: If you're looking for a fashion doll a little closer to Barbie, One World Dolls are a great alternative. Unique and multi-cultural, the company offers a line of "Prettie Girls" (Prettie stands for: positive, respectful, enthusiastic, talented, truthful, inspiring, excellent) who are hip young ladies achieving their dreams, and "Tween Scene" younger dolls who are hard working and dynamic. One World Dolls believes true beauty comes from within and encourages all girls to achieve their biggest, brightest dreams.


Lottie Dolls: With a stated aim of being age-appropriate and relatable, Lottie is a fantastic choice. They're also adorable, award winning, and come with cool outfits and accessory sets for activities like fossil hunting, karate, stargazing, and saving the day superhero style. I love that there's a boy doll as well, Finn, who could easily mix and match with any of Lottie's sets. (Spring Celebration Ballet Finn? Why not? We're breaking molds here.)


Goldie Blox Action Figures: Goldie Blox wants to encourage girls to take or, more likely, keep an interest in STEM fields with cool construction kits for future engineers. They also offer a Goldie action figure (not just a doll!) who comes with a zipline construction kit, or Ruby Rails, Goldie's tech savvy BFF with a parachute kit. Goldie Blox hopes: "that Goldie and her friends provide a vital way to see all the different things that girls can be, and are inspiring examples for girls and boys alike."

min_girls_americanAmerican Girl Mini Dolls: I have an American Girl junkie in my house, and while I love the ties to history and the way AG strives for diversity and girl-positive messages, I don't love the price tag. So at 6.5 inches and $25 each these miniature dolls are perfect. They also come with a book, and American Girl's expected high quality.


Makies: The price tag of these dolls is high, but so is the coolness factor: You custom design the doll you want, choosing from a wide variety of skin and eye and hair colors, outfits, and even the face or eye shape. Name the doll after customizing, and then it's made using a 3D printer in London. So neat. There are also extra outfits and wigs, and accessories like a veterinarian or photographer career kit, glasses, cochlear implants and other assistive devices, and of course, shoes and hair accessories.