As I’m walking through Target with my little sister, the kid somehow manages to convince me to take a trip down the doll aisle. I know the type - brands that preach diversity through displays of nine different variations of white and maybe a black girl if you’re lucky enough. What I instead found as soon as I turned into the aisle were these two boxes.
The girl on the left is Shola, an Afghani girl from Kabul with war-torn eyes. Her biography on the inside flap tells us that “her country has been at war since before she was born”, and all she has left of her family is her older sister. They’re part of a circus, the one source of light in their lives, and they read the Qur’an. She wears a hijab.
The girl on the right is Nahji, a ten-year-old Indian girl from Assam, where “young girls are forced to work and get married at a very early age”. Nahji is smart, admirable, extremely studious. She teaches her fellow girls to believe in themselves. In the left side of her nose, as tradition mandates, she has a piercing. On her right hand is a henna tattoo.
As a Pakistani girl growing up in post-9/11 America, this is so important to me. The closest thing we had to these back in my day were “customizable” American Girl dolls, who were very strictly white or black. My eyes are green, my hair was black, and my skin is brown, and I couldn’t find my reflection in any of those girls. Yet I settled, just like I settled for the terrorist jokes boys would throw at me, like I settled for the butchered pronunciations of names of mine and my friends’ countries. I settled for a white doll, who at least had my eyes if nothing else, and I named her Rabeea and loved her. But I still couldn’t completely connect to her.
My little sister, who had been the one to push me down the aisle in the first place, stopped to stare with me at the girls. And then the words, “Maybe they can be my American Girls,” slipped out of her mouth. This young girl, barely represented in today’s society, finally found a doll that looks like her, that wears the weird headscarf that her grandma does and still manages to look beautiful.
I turned the dolls’ boxes around and snapped a picture of the back of Nahji’s. There are more that I didn’t see in the store; a Belarusian, an Ethiopian, a Brazilian, a Laotian, a Native American, a Mexican. And more.
These are Hearts 4 Hearts dolls, and while they haven’t yet reached all parts of the world (I think they have yet to come out with an East Asian girl), they need all the support they can get so we can have a beautiful doll for every beautiful young girl, so we can give them what our generation never had.
Please don’t let this die. If you know a young girl, get her one. I know I’m buying Shola and Nahji for my little sister’s next birthday, because she needs a doll with beautiful brown skin like hers, a doll who wears a hijab like our older sister, a doll who wears real henna, not the blue shit white girls get at the beach.
The Hearts 4 Hearts girls are so important. Don’t overlook them. Don’t underestimate them. These can be the future if we let them.
You can read more about the dolls here: http://www.playmatestoys.com/brands/hearts-for-hearts-girls
A black man rides a bus restricted to whites only, in Durban. In an act of resistance to South Africa’s apartheid policies, 1986.
look at their faces. upset that this black man dared to exist in their space
It’s sad how terrified he looks.
the fear in his eyes man :/
not even “their space”. Europeans invaded South Africa, separated Black people from their own country and dared to be aghast at their want to considered humans. This was just 28 years ago, guys!!
Don’t let the black and white picture fool you. These are recent, even current events.
most if not everyone in this picture is still alive
Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman-Hughes, 1972 and 2014
Both by Dan Bagan
Wanna see my cry like a baby? Ask me who these women were.
Hughes’ father was beaten nearly to death by the KKK when she was a kid, and what does she do? Become an activist to try and stop that from happening to other people. She raised money to bail civil rights protesters out of jail. She helped women get out of abusive situations by providing shelter for them until they got on their feet. She founded an agency that helped women get to work without having to leave their children alone, because childcare in the 1970s? Not really a thing. In fact, a famous feminist line in the 70s was “every housewife is one man away from welfare.”
Then she teamed up with Steinman to found the Women’s Action Alliance, which created the first battered women’s shelters in history. They attacked women’s rights issues through boots on the ground activism, problem solving, and communication. They stomped over barriers of race and class to meet women where they were: mostly mothers who wanted better for themselves and their children.
These are women are who I always wanted to be.
The thing that delights me most about comics with both Spider-Man and Deadpool in them is that in ANY OTHER COMIC Spider-Man is the joking little kid of the group but if you put Deadpool beside him he’s suddenly the adult of the situation