Disclosure: I received a doll and book to assess for this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
American children today are a diverse group, and this is not a trend – it’s the future of America. The Census Bureau estimates that as of July 2013, half of children age five and younger were minorities.
With such strong numbers evident, one would assume toy manufacturers would ensure their product lines reflected the demographics of the market. Sadly we’ve seen the opposite, the most notable of late when American Girl announced earlier this year the retirement of one of only two of its African American dolls as well as the only Asian American doll in its lineup.
Stepping up to the plate are small business owners with a strong mission, driven by their beliefs that dolls of all colors should exist to represent American girls today. Part of building self-esteem in girls while broadening their global horizons is to offer them dolls to which they can relate and learn. Global Girl, a line of stylish, multicultural play dolls from six different countries, was launched in April 2014 and offers an educational opportunity to teach kids about life in other parts of the world through play.
|Global Girl dolls
Image: Global Girl
“Momtrepreneur” Kimberly Briner Conrad founded Global Girl is to open girls’ minds and spark a natural curiosity about their peers in other countries. After much research, she realized there were no doll brands or book collections that focused on different countries and cultures in a meaningful, inspirational and empowering way. Global Girl was created to bring fun, thoughtful and educational dolls and books to children in the United States and around the world.
Global Girl includes not only the dolls representing the countries of the U.S., France, Russia, Argentina, China and South Africa. It also sells separate companion books that provide a narrative of each girl’s life growing up in a different country. These educational books (sold separately) give girls an age-appropriate primer about language, culture, currency, geography and a brief history of each country in a fun story format.
|Global Girl books
Image: Global Girl
The founder paid great detail to creating a high quality doll. To capture the authentic facial details of an 8-10 year old girl from each respective country, Global Girl created each doll with its own face mold. The interior of each doll is constructed with a soft body and specially designed frame work thus allowing each doll to sit up, stand up on its own and pose in hundreds of positions. The arms, legs and breastplate are individual sculpts, making the dolls detailed and life-like. Each doll comes with pierced ears and beautiful earrings, and the outfits are fashionable with a nod to traditional styles.
I had the opportunity to receive the China doll version named Mei Ling. The doll is 21” so taller than the American Girl dolls, and came packaged in a beautiful box with a window to view the doll. My daughter saw Mei Ling in the box and immediately wanted to open the package.
We both loved the doll’s beautiful outfit: a red satin coat with an Asian pattern and pink fur trim on the collar and sleeves. Underneath the doll wore a matching dress in the traditional Chinese style, known as a qípáo. The dress reminded me of the Chinese dress I wore to my wedding reception. It was in the same red color representing good luck and in a similar design and cut.
The details were impressive, everything from the red rhinestone earrings to shiny black shoes with bows. Unlike most toys which are held in their packages with hard to open and ugly wire twist ties, the doll was held in with two white satin ribbons. My daughter reused the ribbons to tie Mei Ling straight black hair into a ponytail.
The companion book was called Mei Ling in China. The chapter book follows Mei Ling, an 11 year old girl, as she goes on adventures in Shanghaiand discovers mysteries, secrets and treasures from her family’s past.
Though my daughter was too young to read, she loved hearing me read aloud to her. She identified with the main character, making comments like, “My hair looks like hers” and “My auntie lives in Shanghaijust like her.” We read parts of the book each night before bedtime until we completed it all. My daughter stayed interested until the very end.
The six books in the Global Girl collection include:
- Vivienne in France
- Marcela in Argentina
- Mei Ling in China
- Tiffany in New York
- Tatiana in Russia
- Amahe in South Africa
I recommend this innovative collection of ethically diverse, education play dolls and children’s books. They’re great for girls of all ethnic backgrounds and would also make for a unique gift. Global Girl dolls ($89.99) and books ($9.95) are currently sold exclusively online at globalgirl.com.