Snuggles, Wendy & Tashanda Rhonda all have something in common…me. They were my first examples of beauty, my best friends and they each shared many sleepovers with me. They also were my favorite dolls. I learned how valuable Wendy was when I lost her at the playground one day. My dad and brother scoured our neighborhood and knocked on many doors trying to find her. I cried thinking that I would lose the tall dark skinned depiction of a little girl. She had two braids and a beautiful face. She made me feel pretty just by being in my arms and as a short four year old we were about the same size. When they brought Wendy home I gave her a big hug and a middle name. I decided that she should be named after the nice receptionist in the doctor’s office. Her name became Wendy Nancy. I had a middle name why shouldn’t she?
As an author of children’s books I realize that my imagination, creativity and love for telling stories began in my childhood play with dolls. As a therapist I also realize that they set a foundation for my self-esteem, my ability to nurture and practice empathy. I got to practice my social skills with my dolls and model the example that I saw around me using them as props. Knowing what I know now dolls are priceless tools to young people.
I was excited last year to be able to be on the panel with so many wonderful women at the Detroit Doll Show. The event was a wonderland for imagination, beauty and esteem. When we think about the role that dolls have played in the lives of our young people we cannot discount the role that they played in history. Every child should have an opportunity to see themselves reflected in the face of a doll. Everyone should know that they too are capable of being a model for a beautiful playmate for a small child. Every child should know that they are worthy.