This is a REPOST from TAMARACK IDEA FACTORY, originally published on March 3, 2015.
I have been so impressed by Sonia Singh’s Tree Change Dolls (see the video below) –
I especially loved the looks on the girl’s faces as they held and played with their dolls. One of the girls said, “They kind of look like they’re the same age as you,” and you could see that in their play. I think that the innocence of childhood is so beautiful and should be protected and nurtured. While I do prepare my children for the world that they live in, I am very careful in the way that I prepare them. I have had a very hard time choosing dolls for them and the girls and I have gone the rounds about which toys I’ll buy. In fact, I fell in love with Fanny, by Hollie Hobbie for that very reason, (see this post on my book review).
Sonia talked about the fact that her intention wasn’t to make a statement about the sexualization of girl’s toys, but as her work has become viral, it has created a debate and I believe that part of that is, as her husband said, “They really look lovely this way.” It’s true. There is a sweetness to the dolls. And, it does reflect a choice that the toy manufacturers are making. Based on at least some of the debate (and many of the mothers out there) it seems that a lot more people would also like to have dolls that are sweet and simple. I do love American Girl Dolls for that reason, but they are quite expensive, and this is a great way to save the expense, create, and teach some valuable lessons all at once.
It’s clear that Sonia’s main purpose was to make a statement about upcycling and reusing (as evidenced in her own words, but also in the name that she chose for the company). I am struck by the message that she has given both about choice and about creativity. Knowing that she can’t become a doll manufacturer on the scale of a toy company, she runs an etsy store and has created some videos encouraging others to create their own dolls. On her tumbler site, she encourages others to create saying,
I encourage others to recycle and upcylce old dolls and toys. Do it yourself, do it with friends, do it with children and others in your family, do it with strangers. There are so many plastic dolls already made that could still be played with and could inspire the creative minds of children with a little attention and creativity.
She also points others to some Do It Yourself videos on how to do a doll “makeunder”. The first is on how to remove the paint and change the face of the dolls –
and then she has one on what to do about missing feet and/or shoes, that one uses chemicals and is not recommended for children, but is interesting to watch –
I am so edified by this! I sometimes forget that I still have a choice and can fix the things that I don’t like in the world. We can change our clothes, toys, media, etc. and create things that are uplifting and wholesome in the world around us. Thank you Sonia for such a brilliant idea and for encouraging others to create as well!
Sonia is still going strong. Here is her Instagram account. There have been some controversies, some who feel upset that she is taking off the make-up off of the dolls, but I still LOVE what she’s doing – the creativity, the up-cycling, the whole idea of letting the girls see something that is more natural. BRAVO, Sonia!