Dragon Tongue




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

ahhhh i’m so conflicted about this bc on the one hand i am sooo happy that this representation finally exists (i myself used to dream abt south asian and muslim dolls as a child in post 9/11 america) but there has to be a better way than with those tragic stories, right? i know at least it’s something, and it’s not inaccurate per se, but does this strike anyone else as yet another western well-meaning way of making girls of color, especially when they’re from other countries, look tragic and constantly oppressed? this is so good, i just wish it were better!

the first time I read this, I was side-eyeing the tragic stories that accompanied each doll, and wondering if this couldn’t be done better. still, I went to their website and started clicking around, checking out their dolls. I got to the appalachian doll, and something hit me.

so when I was growing up - basically, until I was 15 or 16 - my parents were dirt poor. my dad worked in another state to send money back and for several years, I only saw him once or twice a year. we were on food stamps and welfare for quite a long time, and lived in some really, really crappy, run-down houses. I was an avid reader and I loved the library and I loved my dolls, but I was KEENLY aware that I was different than everyone else I was reading about. my family didn’t go on vacations, we didn’t live in a house where I had my own bathroom and a gorgeous room with a canopy bed and fluffy carpeting. even books that depicted ‘middle class’ girls made me so painfully aware about our income. reading books about girls whose parents were doctors and professors and scientists made me feel uncomfortably ashamed about my parents, neither of whom had gone to college.

so yeah. I read over Dell’s story several times, and I think it would’ve been a huge thing for me as a kid to have a doll whose background resembled mine. I think it would’ve been gone a long way towards showing me that my family wasn’t abnormal and wrong because we didn’t have a huge, fenced-in yard with a tire swing in the backyard, and we had to get all of our clothes from the thrift store.

I definitely agree that there’s a trend to depict people from other countries as nobly rising above their tragic circumstances, and that can kind of be gross when that’s the ONLY way they’re represented, but I do think that for girls who grow up in less than ideal circumstances, it can be really significant to have role models and representation. logically, I know that a horrific amount of children grow up in families that are below the poverty line, but to this day, I still feel really uncomfortable saying that my parents were on food stamps, or that they currently live in a trailer, or that they’re both blue-collar workers.

my .02

(via kristinetuna)



Republicans in Kansas are supporting the Democratic candidate for governor. Click here to watch Jessica Williams investigate.

lol I love her.

(via crissle)