Growing up I always enjoyed playing with my dolls. I will even tell you that I still have my Barbies saved at my parent’s place (I will try to donate them next time I’m back home, maybe just keep one). But, being a kid, you’re not really thinking about how these dolls look. You just think they are pretty, but you don’t go too deep into that discussion. Now that I’m all grown up, I must say that some dolls are looking very inappropriate. Beside the fact that they look super unrealistic, some are too thin, they can be dressed quite un-classy and their make-up is over the top. So, when I saw Tree Change Doll initiative all I could think was – How did we not do this before?!
Created by Australian artist Sonia Singh, Tree Change Dolls is a project focused on recycling old dolls. What Sonia does is to find old discarded ones and bring them back to life. While re-using and recycling is awesome by itself, the makeover she gives these dolls is the best part. Images of ‘before and after’ will just shock you. After she finds the dolls, she strips them down of their clothes and make up. That is when magic begins. Sonia transforms them into human-like creatures. She paints their faces so they look very natural and she dresses them in comfortable clothes. Now they look like they can climb a tree, jump on the trampoline or do other kind of fun activities that kids enjoy. They are no longer wearing heavy make up, or looking like they’re about to go to a night club.
Now, I know that dolls are supposed to be pretty, but I am seriously concerned if what we see on the left side in the image above is our idea of beauty. Very emphasised lips, cat-like eyes with heavy make up and a nose that’s barely there – is that what the kids should be playing with? On the right side we see a face that kids can relate to, that feels real and approachable. Seeing this contrast makes me wonder how is it even possible that Barbie and Bratz (or whatever dolls are popular these days) are sending so many wrong messages. Yes, dolls should be pretty, that’s for sure, but we also need to rethink what pretty means and what is appropriate for the little ones to be playing with. We mustn’t forget that kids are very impressionable and the effects that certain things may leave on them are probably bigger than we imagine. So, I can only hope that more people will go for the natural looking dolls, and maybe even big toy companies will embrace some of this philosophy for their products.