Raising Daughters in a Fashion Doll World

Saying “no” is very much an easy solution in dealing with child training. No, we do not do sleepovers. No, you are not taking ballet lessons. No, we do not allow fashion dolls in our home. No, you can’t have any candy. A dear mentor of mine encouraged me to be a mother who tries to say “yes.” Saying “no” can be an easy solution, but it can also shut down doors to teaching opportunities and experiences where my children can grow. So, I am learning that very often there are ways to say “yes” to things within biblical perimeters. I am not saying that my answer is “yes” to everything, but I try not to give an immediate “no” until I have thought something through.

I had a Barbie doll for a short time as a child. I truly enjoyed playing with it. But after having concerns with the impact the unrealistic image that doll could have on me, my parents choose to substitute my doll with another toy of my choice.

Like many young women, I did have a season where I struggled with having a godly perspective about the shape and weight of my body. I don’t believe playing with a Barbie doll had nearly much influence as the conversations and perspectives of the friends I listened to at that time in my life. But as a result of my struggle, even before I was married, I decided I would never let the world influence my daughters about what their body should or should not look like. I never wanted my children to own a fashion doll.

I truly was naïve then, in thinking I could protect my daughters from being critical of the body God gave them by not allowing them to play with a Barbie doll. And I wasn’t brilliant to think I had power to protect them from ever being exposed to worldly influences. At some point, my children will be exposed to the influences of the world. I can choose if I will be the person to discuss things with them or not. If I don’t address issues with them, it will be someone else who will. I have come to realize that I am unable to protect my children from the world, but I am able to prepare them how to respond biblically when they do encounter worldly perspectives. I actually fail in teaching my children how to think biblically if I protect my children from the exposure to the evil around them. They will be in shock and unable to grapple with what is out there if they are faced with it when they are on their own. I must make it a point to gradually, and purposefully address issues like body image with them while I am able. I currently have control of when and how they are exposed to things right now and I can teach them how to interact and perceive worldly influences in light of Scripture. Or I can even to allow another trusted adult, like a grandparent, Auntie, or godly older woman to also to be a part in the development of my daughter’s Spiritual development.

Allowing my daughters to play with fashion dolls is a perfect opportunity to teach them how to think and play appropriately with clothing and dolls, without being influenced by the image the doll portrays. Fashion dolls can be a great way for little girls to learn how to make and design clothes that are modest and creative. My girls also can learn how to fix hairstyles by playing with the doll’s hair. I consider incorporating fashion dolls into my girl’s lives as an asset.

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This is what I do. I buy used Bratz dolls. I take time to repaint and make them into child friendly wholesome faced dolls, instead of the seductive, dolls they are. A few years ago, I came across an amazing up-cycled version of fashion dolls by an Australian Artist, Sonia Singh. Sonia remakes the gaudy dolls into something lovely. She freely shares her methods and patterns about how to do that yourself. I spent time learning what she did and made dolls for my daughters from her website, Tree Change Dolls, and her printable instructions on Etsy. I have been able to create sweet faced fashion dolls for my daughters thanks to Sonia’s printables. For instance, the little blond doll pictured above is the same blond doll pictured at the top of this blog post. It is true! Following Sonia’s instructions, I can easily make footwear, hairstyles, faces, and clothes. It is incredible fun to be a part of the doll’s transformation and I know my daughters will enjoy repainting their own dolls in time.

My other concern with fashion dolls is finding them around the house with nothing on. I want to teach my children that it is wise to cover up and be discreet. So, my next step for the dolls is to make permanent swimsuits for them. The swimsuit will be stitched on and my girls can change their doll’s clothes, without the doll ever being completely undressed.

Fashion dolls can be used in an incredible way in my daughters’ lives to teach them about discretion, appropriateness, and modesty. As my daughters get older, I know they will also be able to learn how to create outfits for their dolls. So, the dolls will play a role in allowing my daughters to be creative with clothing learn some sewing skills, and have simple fun playing with fashion that is not over sexed. So instead of telling my daughter’s “no.” I have found a way to use a worldly toy to the advantage of teaching my children biblical principles, homemaking skills, and art.