Baby doll

Local students organize black doll drive to help kids feel like they belong

STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) – Studies show that high self-esteem is linked to academic achievement, and experts say performance is important for all ages.

Self-confidence begins to form at a very young age, even before social media made its mark. Many say that when children see toys and characters in a variety of skin tones, they are able to better understand themselves and others.

That’s why students at Mary Baldwin University are organizing a black doll drive for local families. The reader serves approximately 300 children each year.

“A lot of kids here don’t have much access to black dolls due to demographics,” said Mylanah Twyman, MBU student and event supporter.

Twyman said she didn’t have many black dolls as a child and knows that many local children are in a similar situation. Being able to give a child that validation was very important, she said.

Another student and supporter, Caitlyn Russell, also did not have black dolls, and she said the issue came to light when she went shopping for the ride.

“When we went to get the dolls, there weren’t any in this neighborhood. I feel like that really pressed the issue, ”Russell said.

Teaira Jordan, an MBU student and supporter of the event, mentioned a 2014 study that showed large retailers price black and white dolls differently, saying this might be a reason parents can’t buy them. for their children.

“I wanted to make sure that other girls can see things and play with things that are like them, so that they can relate to each other and not have this identity crisis by only playing with white dolls as a little black girl, ”Jordan said.

All three women agreed that representation matters, even for young children.

“When you’re in school and growing up with all of these people around you and you don’t see any dolls or toys that look like you, you feel smaller than everyone else,” Twyman said.

They said their dolls were the benchmark for their looks. When kids only have white dolls, it creates hurtful expectations, Russell said.

“Having white dolls somehow sets the standard, like, that’s what you should look like. Even if they don’t take it as'[my features] doesn’t matter, ”they will try to change it. Then we lose some attributes and characteristics that are unique to our breed, ”said Russell.

Since confidence begins to develop very early on, toys are often the first thing on a young person’s mind.

“As little girls the first thing you see is your doll. It’s what your parents give you. It’s not TV. It’s a baby doll. So if you have a baby doll that starts at a young age, maybe three or four, and you see that she looks like you, then you’re going to associate yourself with that, like, ‘oh, ok my features are beautiful. because I have a doll that looks like me, ”Jordan said.

The ability to give that confidence to another girl is amazing, they said.

“Not having it when you’re a kid and you can give it to another kid, and that’s really special to me,” Twyman said.

You can bring donations to the Spencer Center on Mary Baldwin’s campus until Friday, when the ride ends. The event is annual, so they will reopen donations in November 2022.

One of the students donated a doll with vitiligo. (WHSV)(WHSV)

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