Doll Play Becomes Inclusive with Hello Hijab



Throughout the semester, we have explored the ways in which different ethnicities are or are not included in the definition of “America”, and we have also explored the way doll play encourages the performance of race or identity. Many times in historical texts, the use of dolls led to exclusion or degradation of minorities, as seen in the discussion of black dolls being used to practice violence in Bernstein’s article. However, in Kirsten Learns a Lesson, we see Singing Bird and Kirsten playing together with dolls that reflect their unique identities. Similarly, a recent story in the news brought attention to a Pittsburgh woman who creates hijabs for dolls, introducing the possibility for more inclusive doll play. Both Kirsten Learns a Lesson and the “Hello Hijab” initiative focus on representations of “America” in ways that foster inclusivity through doll play.

In the story Kirsten Learns a Lesson, dolls play a large role in the girlhood of the characters. Kirsten and her cousins play with dolls who look and act like them, who live in a “house” like theirs and eat cakes like they do. This is a performance of their own definition of “America”. However, later in the text, Kirsten learns about a different definition of this identity by playing with Singing Bird’s doll, who looks and acts like a Native American. By performing her own ethnicity through doll play, Singing Bird exposes Kirsten to a broader meaning of “America” that goes beyond white colonial settlers, and teaches her about another group of people who inhabit the same geographic space. This mutual inclusion and tolerance allows the two girls to forge a friendship. On a similar note, a mother in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who is dedicated to exposing her daughter to a diverse doll collection—and thus, a diverse worldview—recently decided to start making and selling doll-sized hijabs for girls to add Muslim characters to their doll collections. The goal, according to the woman’s brand, Hello Hijab, is to teach young girls about inclusiveness and creating a kinder America. Both of these texts relate to the keyword essay on “America” and its discussion of who is included in the homogenized umbrella of “America”. Though originally thought of as a nation of white colonists, America has expanded to house a diverse group of people, nationalities, and identities, and this move towards more inclusive doll play is important in reflecting that.


6 thoughts on “Doll Play Becomes Inclusive with Hello Hijab”

  1. I strongly agree with your opinion that doll play helps young girls understand that diverse races and the groups of the minorities exist in the world because they can recognize which dolls’ appearances look like them or not. Through the doll play, ultimately, the girls can understand and experience the important meaning of unification in the world without being divided by ethnicities or races because they can realize that they should embrace different races or ethnicities through the play. In addition to that, it is very interesting that the Pittsburgh woman’s creation for dolls in hijabs. I think that there are still people who have negative thoughts about wearing hijabs. However, thanks to the Pittsburgh woman’s effort, young girls who play with the hijabs dolls may better understand that we should respect the people who wear their unique traditional outfits, such as the hijabs. For these reasons, I agree with you how important doll plays are and how the plays influence young girls positively.

  2. Great post! I think it’s great that this woman created the Hello Hijab brand to bring awareness to girls who may not know or understand what a hijab is. It also is a great way to be inclusive of women in cultures that wear hijabs. In relation to the keywords essay “America”, Hello Hijab is a excellent way to create a more inclusive America and expand its definition.

  3. Caroline, this is written so wonderfully. I have never heard of the Hello Hijab dolls, but the goal behind them is moving. America is such a broad term and I truly believe that the meaning is very fluid. Its definition really depends on who you are and who you consider yourself to be. One thing we all know is that America is a very diverse country. It is about time that we begin to embrace that by teaching children at a young age about why diversity is so important in life.

  4. I think that you could also relate this to the poem about the grandmother washing her feet in the sink and our guest speaker who spoke about Arab cutlure. With these dolls it can also create more exposure to these different styles of different cultures and along with that could lead to more exposure of what our “America” is today and who is included. By creating a doll like this is will help to eliminate these disparities of who some people think are and aren’t included in that definition. It will help to create more of an acceptance of others and also maybe lead to children asking more questions about why women are wearing these Hijabs and why, and what other things that are included in their culture that may be different than their own. This would help in a situation like the foot washing in Sears in the poem and create more of an accepting reaction rather than judgemental and accusatory as was portrayed by bystanders in the poem.

  5. Nice post! I think that this initiate is a great way to be inclusive to more cultures. I think that the Muslim culture has been negatively portrayed too often in our society that we don’t even know the truth of the culture. In my discussion, we talked about how we are really apprehensive about things that we do not know. Although this is not a defense of the horrible stereotypes that our society has put on Muslims, it is not surprising that due to our ignorance, lack of motivation to learn, and the negative stereotypes, we are apprehensive towards Muslims. I think that initiatives like Hello Hijab will hopefully allow the younger generation to do better than the older ones. I think that teaching the younger kids about different cultures and inclusiveness and trying to expunge the negative stereotypes, our society would be a lot more desirable.

  6. I believe that the more diverse toys we give to young girls at the young age, the more accepting and knowledgeable they will be. American Girl has done a great job creating a lot of different dolls in terms of race, religion, and disability. However, there are no Muslim girls represented in the line, but there are rumors that there might be one next year which is exciting. If girls don’t see their identities in popular culture such as in movies, TV shows, or toys, they will consider themselves “different.” and not as valued in America’s eyes. The more toy companies and movie producers showcase the races and religions that get ignored, the more accepted they will feel and the more accepting America will be.

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