With the Christmas season fast approaching, it is now that time of year to start looking for presents for our near and dearest. In the lead up to Christmas All Together Now will be looking at different retailers that have embraced racial diversity and multiculturalism in their products. One market that has only recently been blessed with racial diversity in the past decade are toys for children, in particular dolls and figurines.
In the US only last year, a man was confronted with the misfortune of finding out if he was to purchase an African American Barbie doll for his daughter, he would have to fork out more than double the cost of its Caucasian counterpart. When the retailer in question was queried about the discrepancy in price, they offered the man the doll for the lower price and released a statement apologizing for the ‘systems issue’ that caused disparity.
A generation ago in Australia, it was extremely rare to see a doll that wasn’t white, the vast majority of them with blonde hair and blue eyes. Australian children who were Asian, Aboriginal or from other minority groups never saw features resembling their own on a doll, nor any resemblance of their culture.
Fortunately, there has been a shift in the toy market here to reflect the multicultural, multiracial reality of our society. Earlier this month Jonathan Thurston was spread across national headlines not only for leading the Cowboys to victory in the Rugby League final, but also for the notably dark-skinned doll his two-year-old daughter Frankie was holding. It may not be very obvious yet in the toy sections of our variety stores but it is very evident in specialised toyshops and the educational toy suppliers that stock our day-care centres, pre-schools & early primary schools.
Diversifying the colour of dolls is the first step, but it is important to show a child that not only is your ethnic background worth embracing, but also that your background does not pigeonhole what you’re capable of. This is an important step in teaching not only children but also adults the way in which we can teach our future generations how to understand and participate in multiculturalism.
Kangaroo has a variety of different toys at different price points, including a variety of different finger puppets.
Target stores stock particular brands that offer affordable dolls such as the Lots to Cuddle Babies ($9).