Many a little girl and boy has weathered the ups and downs of childhood with a toy doll by their side.
It's not hard to see why kids love them. They're sturdy, easily transported, and make excellent characters for the kind of fantastical plots that only exist in a child's imagination (seriously - not even Quentin Tarantino could dream up the narratives being acted out in childrens' bedrooms right now).
Yet if there's one downside of dolls - aside from the fact their hair won't grow back after it's been shorn off by a naughty brother - it's that they all tend to look the same. It's rare to come across a figurine that isn't Caucasian in appearance with flowing hair, ultra-feminine clothing and impossibly slender proportions - or, in the case of male dolls, impossibly rock-solid muscles.
In a world where no two people look the same, and where cultures are mixing together more than ever before, dolls represent such a narrow cross-section of what people and children actually look like. It's hard enough to teach kids to accept and love their appearance as it is - wouldn't it be awesome if toys could offer a hand in that department? If we had any say in it, here are the kinds of dolls we'd love to see more of.
1. Hearts for Hearts Girls
Hearts for Hearts Girls are a double whammy of awesome.
The dolls (pictured above) represent a diverse range of cultures and countries, including Belarus, Laos and Ethiopia, with each doll dressed in authentic fashions from her region. One of the most recent additions is Shola from Afghanistan (right), who sports a vibrant hijab. Considering you don't see many dolls on the market that Muslim girls can identify with, Shola is quite remarkable.
But that's not the only reason these dolls are so great. Each one comes with her own story, inspired by the experiences of real girls struggling against challenging circumstances around the world. For some, it's political unrest; for others, extreme poverty. As part of the company's mission to "empower girls to become agents of change in their communities", a portion of the price of each doll is donated to children's causes in the countries they represent.
Dolls that look like real little girls AND make a difference? That's one to add to the Christmas list.