Doll Shaming: Can Moms Raise Strong Daughters to Play With Dolls?

  • 01 of 10

    Pop Quiz? No, Make it a Mom Quiz!

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     There are certain items that have become forbidden in our school yards, classrooms and neighborhood play groups. These include all types of fake guns--plastic ones, NERF blasters, water pistols and even fingers crooked into shapes that resemble a trigger--as well as spreadable peanut butter and any other snack that has even a hint of nuts in it. There is zero tolerance toward the children who bring the offending toy or food into the safety zone, and that's just the way it is. It has not...MORE happened yet, but many moms worry that the next offender on the "No Play" list will be the doll--particularly the baby doll. For all its supposed innocence and wide-eyed wholesomeness, this doll could become Public Enemy Number One. The question is: why? 

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  • 02 of 10

    Are Dolls Anti-Feminist?

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     Dolls have historically been used as a "training" tool. Doll-type figures have been found by archaeologists during digs around the world, showing that the need for clay or wooden or muslin proxy babies has always been a part of tribal life and communal civilizations. (It takes a village to raise a baby doll?) Having a baby doll and caring for it helps a young girl develop nurturing tendencies and increases her empathy. The problem with that observation is that many people fear that by...MORE handing a young girl a baby doll, you are handing her a one-way ticket to a life of household chores. The sole desire to become a mother one day is pinned on the gifting of the baby doll. It really is putting a lot pressure and weight on an inanimate piece of plastic. 

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  • 03 of 10

    Why Does This Photo Cause Resentment?

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     It's almost as if a baby doll is the anti-Cinderella magical wand. While Cindy's fairy godmother freed her from her drudgery and servitude to her evil stepmother and stepsisters, a baby doll is seen as a way to make a daughter into nothing but a mother. And that is the upshot of this discussion. Is there such a thing as "nothing but a mother"? And should women have to apologize for wanting to have children and follow a motherly path? Why is having a doll a guarantee to only want...MORE that maternal outcome? Can you imagine if every girl who took ballet lessons grew up, without exception, to become a professional dancer? It never happens, and no one ever protests that it will. If giving a little girl a tutu and a pair of toe shoes doesn't guarantee she's the next Misty Copeland, than why does the baby doll shut the door on free choice or multiple options?

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  • 04 of 10

    Babies Do Get Pushed Around

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     Baby dolls and their carriages can raise the hackles on some critics. They see a little girl standing behind a stroller and they practically lose their minds. This playtime favorite is perceived as a throwback pursuit, and many critics whisper that the baby doll and its perambulator should be retired to the closet for quaint, old, rare objects. But let's face it: in real life, babies do get pushed around! They really do lie in carriages while their moms, dads, grandparents, siblings and...MORE caregivers roll them around the park or up and down the streets. That's a major reason why baby dolls should not be used in the gender wars: people of all backgrounds have children, adopt children, raise children and watch children grow. It is not a question of whether a baby doll prevents a girl from growing up to follow a career and to pursue a scientific or business  path. It is more a matter of whether a baby doll helps to develop an empathetic personality that will make a young girl into a stronger person, understanding boss, better spouse, supportive friend and--yes--concerned mom. A baby doll will!

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  • 05 of 10

    Your Lifestyle Holds More Sway Than a Doll Does

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     People who vocally oppose the blending of baby dolls and little girls should realize that the mother's daily life will ultimately set the tone for her daughter's view of the world, and that view will include what a woman's role in the workplace and home environment can be. Many career women take hiatuses from their jobs to stay home with their children for a couple of years, or many opt to continue in their professions but work out a way where their duties can be performed at home....MORE This way, these moms are having the chance to experience being hands-on mothers and wage-earning laborers. 

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  • 06 of 10

    Mainly Mom?

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     If a mom is a single parent or cannot swing a home office, she has the daily challenge of having to navigate work time and play time. Her daughter will grow up seeing how hard her mother worked and how many sacrifices she made. Her mother could be a high-powered attorney or a high-ranking police officer, a supermarket manager or a hedge-fund manager, what does her occupation matter? The daughter will grow up remembering the times her mom acted as a mom. She will be able to mimic her...MORE mother's attention and resilience when she sits down to play with her doll. "Bring Your Child to Work Day" happens once a year. "Be a Mom to Your Child" happens 365 days a year. Keep that in mind. It is essential. 

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  • 07 of 10

    Following in Your Footsteps and Beyond

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     A baby doll is as valid a toy for a young girl as an iPad, a laptop, a microscope or any other tech toy. A doll doesn't make you feminine (there are boys who love to play with baby dolls, after all); likewise, a doll doesn't prevent you from being a feminist. A baby doll just makes you receptive to learning to care about someone or something beyond yourself. And note the vocabulary here--beyond yourself, not greater than yourself. 

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  • 08 of 10

    Baby Love Encourages . . .

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     Parents desire for their children to do more than they have ever done: to do better financially, to travel and see more, to love and be loved more. Parents want the best for their children. If a child is the most important part of a mom's life, why wouldn't she want her daughter (and son) to experience that same parental joy? Why should a baby doll be banned? A baby doll is a stand-in for your own child. It is a symbol of how you loved and interacted with your child when she was a mere...MORE infant, toddler and tot. 

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  • 09 of 10

    Baby Doll Doting

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     Since our children are like sponges, they absorb all that we say, do, act out and hold back. They mimic their moms' and dads' best and worst behaviors. How rewarding, then, if a mom gets to see her daughter lying down with a baby doll--a look of bliss glowing on her child's face. Her daughter picked up this connection between caring for a baby, and feeling cared for in return, because of her parents' love toward her. 

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  • 10 of 10

    A Job Well Done

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     Think about the biggest bonus or the best compliment you ever received at work--does it compare to this acknowledgment of your mom role? You've done a first-rate job. You've raised your child from baby to young girl to young woman and beyond. Were baby dolls part of that journey?