|Buy a Doll, Save the World?|
When it comes to Internet surfing, I’m like the Big Kahuna of the cyber waves. There isn’t a byte of information or a massive thread that I’m not willing to throw myself into (or onto, if we’re talking successful surfing). Recently, I came across a columnist from Chicago who was wondering if dolls were still wished for by anyone: Were there still little girls out there asking Santa for a “Betsy Wetsy” or a "Barbie" to call their own?
His conclusion was that, yes, there were a few, but they were the exception and not the rule.
It makes sense to me. Dolls are wish fulfillment, and being “pretty” is still on the top of most young girls’ aspirations (and pretty high up for us old girls, too, for that matter). Living in a world of rampant nips-and-tucks, and out-of-control plastic surgery, we all have the potential to be just one Botox injection away from permanent Barbie-hood. Is that a good or bad thing? I guess you have to ask Ken.
It’s funny, but years ago, dolls used to be given to little girls not only for play and amusement, but for life preparation. Since more often than not, tiny Tina and small Sally would grow up to be moms, the baby doll was like a crash course in miniature—a little life lesson. The eager miss who would play for hours—changing the diapers, giving the bottles, staging elaborate burps and baths—was unwittingly getting ready for what she’d be doing over the course of her life, or until menopause hit her!
Now, that’s a bleak Christmas sentiment. If you follow this thread, then it’s akin to training and grooming a child into a role that has been picked out for her since her cradle days. Not a very merry musing for us 21st-century free-thinkers.
I wonder if the decline in little girls clamoring for dolls (and that is a sad fact) can be traced to the emergence and acceptance of the feminist movement. Have records been kept to see if there is a correlation between the disenchantment for baby dolls and the rise of Title IX and girls being included in after-school sports? I would be curious to know.
From my own personal experience, I sense that the little girl with her nose pressed up against a display case, oohing and aahing over an adorable doll, is a rarity. Most of the kindergarten and early-grade girls I know might have one or two dolls (given to them, not requested) and tons more stuffed animals. On top of that, they have a more palpable fascination with soccer, kung fu fighting, iPods, computers, and other toys that would have been considered “boyish” during my youth.
When I survey the friends I have (some married, more not), and even the married ones without children—and proud to be so—I start to think: Is this all the end effect of not being a doll-driven culture anymore? If kindergarten Katie isn’t force-fed the importance of feeding and caring for her baby doll, will she grow up NOT to care much about a real offspring one day?
I’ve never really considered the hand-in-hand connection between wanting to baby a baby doll, and then growing up to baby a real infant, but it has to be there. I mean, I can’t simply be imagining this!
Birth rates are down in Western nations, and the young women today who are confidently striding through their careers and their condos most likely did not sit on Santa’s knee and dream exclusively of dolls and strollers. I’m not saying that a thirty-something CEO was asking Santa Claus for a lunch box shaped like a briefcase or an exclusive gym-boree membership, but there is a very high chance that she was doing something beyond the brushing and combing of acetate doll hair.
What, then, does doll buying say about us and about our young girls today? If we buy dolls for our children or grandchildren to play with, are we “dooming” them to a life of household drudgery and frazzled daycare? Are we relegating them to a throwback life of domestic chores? Or are we showing them that there is much to celebrate in caring and loving someone outside of ourselves? Is the gifting of a baby doll an invitation to nurture another soul, a welcoming nudge into the world of selflessness, not selfish single-minded pursuits?
I’ve never really pondered the ramifications of Christmas gifts on a person’s future psyche, but it’s all become crystal clear to me. I remember one episode of “The Waltons”—one of my most favorite TV shows ever—where the whole family chips in to give John-Boy a ream of paper. When he opens up the paper—which honestly looks sort of cruddy and pulpy—tears well up in his eyes. He is moved beyond words, because this gift will allow him to put down his words, and his dreams, and will usher him into the world of being a writer.
Without knowing it, I was being set up to be a grown-up who loves to write, who loves dolls, and who loves to write about dolls! Just think of it: I’m like the Manchurian Candidate, but made by Mattel. I was programmed to be a doll junkie—I didn’t have a fighting chance.
Now, that’s a Christmas sentiment that is more chilling than a Northeast winter morning. Here’s hoping there’s lots of dolls in Santa’s sleigh this year. I know I’m going to head out and buy an armload! Buy a doll and save our world!
(Visiting different Web sites, I see that for many young women, baby dolls might be passé, but the realistic teenage and adult BJDs seem to be inspiring lots of folk to express and expand their creativity. There may not be a Million Mom March in the future, but expect lots of female Oscar-winning directors.
In the Victorian and Edwardian Era, dolls were a staple of the nursery. They helped train the little girl to be a future good mommy (top).
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The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.
The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.
To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:
The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2009 no award presented
2010 Helen Kish
2011 no award presented
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat.
You haven’t seen a toy show until you’ve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and children’s playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.
19 April 2014 – 5 October 2014
A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.