Dolls had always been associated with perfect bodies, perfect features and pretty clothes until dolls like the Lammily dolls entered the market. The industry has since then, gone through a shift, as a result of which, manufacturers have had to adapt to changing consumer mindsets, producing dolls that represent the realities of how people look.
The change began with ranges of dolls from different nationalities and eventually moved to diversities in culture, religion, occupation, outlook and more recently, skin colour, height and body types. Dolls like Lammily went a few steps further, adding skin and body features such as freckles, scrapes and bruises, scars and naturally curly, wavy, frizzy hair.
Most recently, artist Kay Black has hit the spotlight for her dolls featuring a skin pigmentation condition called Vitiligo. Black started painting dolls with realistic skin conditions such as vitiligo and also other features such as freckles, after being inspired by the people around her.
Vitiligo was first brought into the mainstream spotlight by model Winnie Harlow, a model with vitiligo who appeared on the 21st season of America’s Next Top Model and has since been featured in many fashion campaigns. Nowadays, the model has become somewhat of an activist and a role model for people with skin conditions.
Kay’s dolls are proof of how accepting the world has become of people of all shapes and sizes and from all walks of like. “I’m motivated by everyday people I see walking up and down the streets,” says Black, who sells the dolls through her brand Kay Customz. These dolls will be instrumental in boosting self-confidence among adolescent girls, and in building healthy body image expectations for girls, unlike their predecessors, which in the long run, did more harm than good to little girls.