Read this post in the context of the hypersexualization of girls, early puberty (and other problems), a very brief childhood (and getting briefer) and a generalized discontent with one´s image in adolescence, which hurts self-esteem and makes them vulnerable.
In the past years, companies have put a new style of dolls in the market, with more proportionate bodies and limbs than the ubiquitous play dolls (whose proportions would be incompatible with life). Many parents have celebrated this launch, which is apparently the solution to the spaghetti-bodied woman-doll that has become the norm.
But, from my point of view, there is something that is not being considered.
All these “new generation dolls” (industrially manufactured woman dolls) have something in common they are dolls that DO NOT represent girls but adolescents, young and hypersexualized. And this is, historically, a new phenomenon in children´s toys.
A doll is not just any toy. The way in which girls (and boys, if they are given the chance to do so) play with dolls makes in plain that what is coming into play is something deep: children project their inner world unto doll play, they reproduce events form their own daily experience, they imitate and learn behaviors, they handle conflicts and difficulties, they place themselves on all sides of the equation and play diverse roles, including the role of the adult…
Symbolic play with dolls has an extraordinary richness and value for children. It has always been thus, and it is necessary.
Pedagogy experts consider dolls to be a kind of alter-ego, the baby doll or child doll being a figure with which the playing child can identify. What happens in this game is so revealing of a child´s psyche that the observation of spontaneous play is a basic tool used by psychologists to understand psychological difficulties in children, and their origin.
If this is so, the question that begs to be asked is: what is the transcendence of letting children play with dolls that do not represent babies or children but adult women? Adult women with breasts and anorexic figures, thought up according to the standards generated by the porn industry? What happens when the main activity is imaginative/symbolic play (which becomes very limited) is substituted by incessant changes of clothes and accessories, and the need to buy new clothes and new accessories?
And the larger question:
With these type of dolls, are we not prematurely pushing our children out of their infantile consciousness, substituting that relationship with who they are (baby doll) for a relationship with a distorted image of what they someday will be (woman doll)?
Are we truly conscious of the implications of this radical substitution (pushed on us by the industry) of what has always been an archetypal toy for a consumeristic product, tied down by the imperatives of fashion, marketing and patriarchal values? What is the transcendence of these dolls cut by the same mold, an artificial hypersexualized look of impossible proportions and attitude of women to be used?
Yes, it is possible to fight back the pressure and have none of these dolls at home.
It is possible to set limits and gift our children a childhood free of these dolls.
It would be wonderful for girls and boys to have baby/child dolls. They could pretend play – for example – to be great parents.
By Isabel Fernandez del Castillo
Image by SeaReeds from Pixabay