While I was in Chicago I got the chance to finally meet up with an online friend in person. I’ve known my girlfriend Pem since back in my old blogging days. She worked for a brand I loved and we just clicked so we’ve always emailed and kept in touch via social media. She has two children and one day I saw a picture of her daughter holding a doll that looked nothing like her and I said to myself that I needed to make Leia a doll that mirrored what she saw in herself.
I made what is now affectionately known as Little Leia. This is the same doll pattern from the Susan B. Anderson Mary, Millie and Morgan doll I made previously for Maddie. I ordered the Knit Picks Brava Sport in the color almond to get a skin color close to Leia’s and when I did her hair I decided to cut it in a choppy little bob to mimick her own haircut.
For the record, growing up all the dolls in our home were black. These are my sister’s Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls (my sister’s name is Anne so clearly she had to have an Ann doll).
I didn’t even know Raggedy Ann and Andy were white until I saw a cartoon version of them and I thought, well that’s odd because our Ann and Andy are brown at home. That’s also how I felt about non-black Santa Clauses LOL. My mother believed that the dolls you play with should look like you and they should. I’ve taken that to heart and love making dolls when I can for friends. Seeing yourself in everyday things makes you feel more like you belong, like you’re the norm. And sadly in 2017 we still don’t have as much diversity in our products and mainstream culture as we should.
So here’s Leia with the death grip on her doll. She was so excited. And here’s the great thing about when I gave her the doll, she looked at it and said, ‘that’s me!’ with such excitement and joy it made my heart want to explode. She pointed everything out to me and said, ‘that’s my hair, those are my eyes, that’s my button nose…’ She knew that doll was meant for her and Pem told me that when we left and they went to a museum later she told everyone that was her little Leia and fell asleep clutching her doll.
I can’t make a doll for everyone but I’m happy that I can make some of the little girls in my life dolls that show them how beautiful and special they really are in this world. Diversity matters. Representation in the world matters. And sometimes all it takes is seeing the joy in giving a little girl a doll to realize it.