Rescued and rehabilitated?

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(‘Before’ and ‘after’ image from the Tree Change Dolls website)

I’m totally on board with the critique of sexualized dolls for kids, but there’s something about the Tree Change Dolls project that really bothers me. “Rescued and rehabilitated”? I know we’re talking about dolls, but does anyone else feel like these people are actually trying to tell us that women who wear too much makeup are dupes of the patriarchy and need to be saved from themselves?

I’m just not OK with the implication that “down-to-earth” is morally superior to “glitz ‘n’ glamor.” Kids of all genders love glitz and glamor, and glitz and glamor doesn’t have to mean sexy. Why can’t we have a range of dolls of all body types and ethnicities that play with high femme glitz and glamor as well as butch, androgynous, and down-to-earth styles?

Or, as this blogger put it, “Is it more ethical (as the subtext of the Tree Change Dolls website would suggest) to have a doll adorned with the natural beauty look, rather than the hyper-feminine aesthetic more commonly seen?”

I felt the same way after watching this video about Lammily dolls. I’m all for average-sized dolls, but there’s something creepy and paternalistic about this guy Nickolay Lamm boasting that his dolls wear “minimal makeup.” Right?

Yes, we need better dolls. And yes, recycling and refashioning dolls as we’d like to see them is awesome. Just, not like this.

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