Mom Transforms Dolls to Show Her Daughter She is Beautiful

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CBC - It was about a year ago that Queen Cee Robinson tried to find a doll that resembled her daughter and had a revelation – there weren’t any.

Robinson had seen black Barbie dolls before. Most of them wore bikinis, and they all had long, straight hair. And they all looked the same — sidekicks to the white dolls, or as Robinson describes them, “Barbie’s token black friend.”

That started Robinson down a path of giving dolls makeovers — providing them with loose curls and dreadlocks, hijabs and sarongs, all in the name of giving little girls a realistic image of themselves.

Growing up, Robinson never played with dolls much herself. But the more she looked for a doll for her six-year-old daughter, the more upset she became at the limited choices.

“It’s always been a focus as a young black girl growing up,” she said. “You want to see something that looks like you and that’s very rare and scarce to find in media and promotions and toys.”

Robinson searched online and eventually found the Mattel line of So In Style dolls. Most of them still had straight hair, but they deviated from the majority of the homogenous Barbies in stores.

Through more research, she found that the So In Style dolls weren’t carried in Canada, and even more, Mattel had discontinued the line.

Robinson bought up as many of the remaining dolls as she could and "reimaged" one for her daughter, giving it curly hair and a new outfit. She posted pictures of social media and word spread. Since then, she’s done about a dozen custom dolls for people who have contacted her. She charges for the time and materials. Eventually, she'd like to create a proper business making dolls of various ethnicities.

She also uses the dolls for her non-profit Bee-You-Tiful Girls Club, which gives girls creative outlets to express their identities. In February, she held a Just Like Me workshop at the Hamilton YWCA where girls used the dolls to create characters and tell stories aimed at empowering and inspiring them.

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Photo credit: Samantha Cragg/CBC

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