My friend works for FOX and this is what greeted him on his way into work this morning.
As I’m walking through Target with my little sister, the kid somehow manages to convince me to take a trip down the doll aisle. I know the type - brands that preach diversity through displays of nine different variations of white and maybe a black girl if you’re lucky enough. What I instead found as soon as I turned into the aisle were these two boxes.
The girl on the left is Shola, an Afghani girl from Kabul with war-torn eyes. Her biography on the inside flap tells us that “her country has been at war since before she was born”, and all she has left of her family is her older sister. They’re part of a circus, the one source of light in their lives, and they read the Qur’an. She wears a hijab.
The girl on the right is Nahji, a ten-year-old Indian girl from Assam, where “young girls are forced to work and get married at a very early age”. Nahji is smart, admirable, extremely studious. She teaches her fellow girls to believe in themselves. In the left side of her nose, as tradition mandates, she has a piercing. On her right hand is a henna tattoo.
As a Pakistani girl growing up in post-9/11 America, this is so important to me. The closest thing we had to these back in my day were “customizable” American Girl dolls, who were very strictly white or black. My eyes are green, my hair was black, and my skin is brown, and I couldn’t find my reflection in any of those girls. Yet I settled, just like I settled for the terrorist jokes boys would throw at me, like I settled for the butchered pronunciations of names of mine and my friends’ countries. I settled for a white doll, who at least had my eyes if nothing else, and I named her Rabeea and loved her. But I still couldn’t completely connect to her.
My little sister, who had been the one to push me down the aisle in the first place, stopped to stare with me at the girls. And then the words, “Maybe they can be my American Girls,” slipped out of her mouth. This young girl, barely represented in today’s society, finally found a doll that looks like her, that wears the weird headscarf that her grandma does and still manages to look beautiful.
I turned the dolls’ boxes around and snapped a picture of the back of Nahji’s. There are more that I didn’t see in the store; a Belarusian, an Ethiopian, a Brazilian, a Laotian, a Native American, a Mexican. And more.
These are Hearts 4 Hearts dolls, and while they haven’t yet reached all parts of the world (I think they have yet to come out with an East Asian girl), they need all the support they can get so we can have a beautiful doll for every beautiful young girl, so we can give them what our generation never had.
Please don’t let this die. If you know a young girl, get her one. I know I’m buying Shola and Nahji for my little sister’s next birthday, because she needs a doll with beautiful brown skin like hers, a doll who wears a hijab like our older sister, a doll who wears real henna, not the blue shit white girls get at the beach.
The Hearts 4 Hearts girls are so important. Don’t overlook them. Don’t underestimate them. These can be the future if we let them.
You can read more about the dolls here: http://www.playmatestoys.com/brands/hearts-for-hearts-girls
Diversity always wins. Diversity isn’t going to leave music, or TV, or film no matter how many backlashes and reversals there are.
The “fake geek girls” aren’t going to leave your subculture; the “PC police” aren’t going to stop criticizing it. “Angry black women” aren’t getting off your TV and neither are angry Asian men. The “PC diversity brigade” of science-fiction writers is going to keep winning Hugo and Nebula awards, and someday my wife’s going to be one of them.
Critics like Anita Sarkeesian will keep on pointing out what’s bad in games so we can start looking for ways to make games better. Indie designers like Zoe Quinn and Kellee Santiago will keep pushing the boundaries of gaming at the fringes so that people like Manveer Heir and Rhianna Pratchett have breathing room to explore what mainstream “AAA” games can be.
Reactionaries know they can’t win. Their anger stems from their desperation. Read the #GamerGate tag for a while and realize the obsessive fixation on the “corrupt agenda in the gaming press” is, underneath the anger, fear. For all the damage they do, for all the people they hurt, they’re going to lose. Indeed, to react as they have is to prove that they’ve already lost.
After all, #GamerGate, did you think we’d crumble? Did you think we’d lay down and die?
No, not us. We will survive.
Arthur Chu, Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage (for the Daily beast)
A damn good article about how the very real violence resulting from what we call “culture wars” is yet another case of history repeating itself. Hopefully the determination of those willing to analyze, question, and hold media accountable for the narratives it tells us will ensure that this backlash will once again be the harbinger of social change.
when did we replace the word “said” with “was like”
When it occured to us that “said” implies a direct quote, while “was like” clarifies that you mean to communicate the person’s tone and general point without quoting them word for word.