Girl Dolls That Look Like Actual Girls


Sadly, Feral Cheryl is no more, but Australians will have another alternative to Bratz and Barbie as of tomorrow – Australian Girl Doll [warning: annoying website sound] is hitting the shelves. It looks like the launch will be at Toyworld Subiaco.

These dolls look like girls. Not babies or late adolescents, but girls. And the business was started by a Western Australian woman, Helen Schofield.

The characters have actual hobbies that don’t involve conspicuous consumption or beauty rituals. Amy plays sports, Belle snorkels at the beach, Jasmine is a muso, and Emily loves animals and is rocking her hiking boots. None of them are “sassy” or “foxy” or “hot”.

It seems they’ve used the same face mould, presumably because they’re not exactly rolling in economies of scale. The colours also look quite pale, so the non-white dolls do look a bit, well, white. From the cartoon illustrations, it seems clear that Jasmine is intended to be Asian (of Chinese origin?), and Amy is possibly Indigenous. Emily is white and blonde, and Belle is a pale, brown-eyed brunette.

My other critique is that most of the clothes involve pink and/or skirts. Maybe the clothing choices will become a little less stereotypically-feminine over time. There are alternatives – I see one jeans-and-hoodie set, and Emily wears adventurer-type gear – so it’s not completely a one-note wardrobe.

They’re about twice the price of a Bratz doll, but, as baroquestar said, probably half as dangerous.


[ObNoConflictOfInterest: I have no connection with this company. Just stumbled across them today.]

Categories: arts & entertainment, fun & hobbies, gender & feminism, work and family

Tags: , , , , , ,

35 replies

  1. These look a lot like the American Girls doll to me. They have their ’historical’ ones and then the ’just like you’ ones where you can pick from quite a variety of hair/eye/skin combinations.

  2. All thin. I’m grumpy and hungover enough to find that really offensive.

  3. Nia: It looks like a similar concept (except that the American Girls site is far more pinkified). Not the same dolls, though.
    Dolia: None of them have visible disabilities, either.
    However, I’m reading them as “average” rather than “thin” – the arms, in particular, aren’t skinny at all, and neither are the faces; and the girl who does sports has quite thick-looking legs compared to the dolls they’re intended to replace. They look like the vast majority of early-primary-school age kids I see running around. Most importantly, to me, their bodies look like they actually could exist in Nature.

  4. There are dolls available with visible disabilities, such as those here or here
    I’ve already had more discussions than I would like with Abigail about why she can’t have a Bratz doll. Barbies and princesses made their inroads via wrapped birthday and Christmas gifts, and we make an effort to have her incorporate ass-kickingness into her stories about them. But Bratz — we’ve told all gift-givers that they aren’t acceptable.

  5. I love these!!! I agree with Lauredhel, they look like average little girls, not necessarily excessively thin, and some with thicker legs. I also agree that money was probably short, thus leading to similar looking girls – at least they have tried for an Asian and an Indigenous-looking doll. As for the light skin, same thing, although there are enough light-skinned Aboriginal (and Indian, and Islander) people getting around Australia for it not to be ludicrous.
    In any case, more distinguished skin colours and perhaps a couple of plumper ones is something that could happen in a later run. *crosses fingers*

  6. I reckon you have to look at them in the context of the other dolls on the market – makes them look a whole lot better. . .

  7. That’s very true Grendel. As bodies, they’re a great improvement on other plastic dolls (and it’s nice that none of them wets itself either – do hey still make those dolls??) But I have to note as well that there is some fairly grotesque stereotyping going on here – Indigenous athlete – Asian violin student – Bindi Irwin, lol. The fortunate thing is I’m sure children won’t play with them in such limited ways. Hope they sell well.

  8. I like them too, thanks for alerting me to them. I’d prefer the ‘doll of colour’ was a little darker skinned but they’re not bad, not bad at all.

  9. I had/have an American Girl doll and have to say it was good for me. The franchise (until Mattel bought it out several years ago–though they keep fairly towards the mission with a little more corporate feel) really worked towards age-appropriate dolls and books for girls, and I’m glad to see that there’s a company that has a similar mission for Australian girls.
    Problematic, yes, somewhat. But baby steps, definitely.

  10. Oh no – I hadn’t looked closely enough at the descriptions to see they’d assigned sports to the Indigenous doll and music to the Asian doll. . .
    Where’s the science hobby doll?

  11. The Bindi-type doll looks like she could be out collecting samples, though you’d have to BYO accessories. So could the snorkeller (marine biologist in training?)
    I’l like one who’s permanently curled up in the corner with a book, though I admit she might not be all that exciting to play with. “Hi, how are you – ” “What? I’m reading.”

  12. I was writing a story about this this week and it occurred to me while the dolls look like little girls, which is great, they seem to come with a staggering array of accessories. Which doesn’t combat the whole “you need something to make you look pretty” consumerism that girls are taught. That’s probably a bit finicky. Especially since the accessories are boogy boards not shoes and handbags.

  13. Did you find that a staggering array, observer? I was thinking the opposite! For four dolls, there is
    – one wombat
    – one netball outfit, two Tshirts’n’ socks, one pair of sneakers, one jeans ‘n’ hoodie set
    – one hairbrush/mirror set, underwear
    – one bathers ‘n’ hat set, plus a towel ‘n’ boogie board
    – one outfit of playclothes, one birthday dress
    – jammies, robe, and slippers.

  14. Oh, also – for those not familiar with the dolls-for-primary-school-girls market – this is the sort of thing this doll will be competing with.
    “Bratz™ Fashion Designer Funky Fashion Makeover™ Torso Yasmin”

    and their sexy horsey friends:

  15. That makes me want to die. Metaphorically.

  16. I find the list of accessories hopeful in the conspicuous absence of anything fancy beyond “one birthday dress.” Wombats beat out high heels any day, if you ask me.
    Although now that you have mentioned the wombat, lauredhel, I admit that I kinda want one.

  17. Although now that you have mentioned the wombat, lauredhel, I admit that I kinda want one.

    Doesn’t everybody?
    You are most likely unaware of the iconic TV wombat Fatso, a staple cast member on the Aussie drama-soap A Country Practice lo these many years ago.
    There’s a recent pretender at Sydney Olympic Park, but it’s just not the same:

  18. @tigtog: There is something really disturbing about that wombat’s pose and facial expression. Or maybe what I thought was a birth control pill this morning was actually one of the dog’s tranquilizers.

  19. No, slave2thetink, it’s not just you.

  20. Better! Yes, they do remind of The American Girl dolls. My real live American girl adores her’s, too. No Bratz here. In face, we make a point of deconstructing them. Something I frequently consider, when reflecting on how highly sexualized children’s culture is, is how we’re helping to shape desire and a sense of beauty in boys, too. Think about how sleek and shapely Disney moms are in movies and on TV; the boys also see their 9 year old counterparts in hot pink with Princess written across their bellies and behinds. So at an early age, boys start seeing and accepting, sort of as part of the regular landscape, girls their own age being sexualized AND an image of an adult woman that is thin, attractive and desirable. Very problematic!

  21. That wombat does look like it’s about to take a crap on passers-by. I think the look is guilty enjoyment.
    And wow, I hear you Minnesota Matron…even freaking Hi-Five…it’s all so ‘Girls are supposed to be shiny, happy, vacuous and bubbly’. *Blows loud and undecorous raspberry*

  22. FP: My mind is dirtier than yours, I guess, my first thought on seeing that wombat’s pose was “porntastic!” Which is why I sorta wondered if I’d been taking dog tranquilizers by accident.
    Also you forgot the part where girls are supposed to be hairless from the nose down, even if they’re actual women who have gotten past puberty and everything. Clean and mostly hairless and sweet-smelling and always compliant, that’s us XX chromosome types!

  23. *Mutters in incoherent rage at unfairness of cultural beauty expectations on women, shakes fist, goes back to study*

  24. It is a shame the dolls don’t actually look like their cartoon images. The seemingly Indigenous doll looks great in her cartoon form, not so great in her doll form. My daughter is Indigenous and she has pale skin, light brown hair and blue eyes. The vast majority of Indigenous people these days don’t have the stereotypical dark skin, dark hair and dark eyes. People think my husband is Samoan or Maori all the time but he is Aboriginal with no Samoan or Maori influence at all. While I definitely think these dolls are a step forward from Bratz etc, there is still a long way to go.

  25. I don’t object to the Indigenous doll’s skin tone… as Bri pointed out, that’s what most of us look like. I’d be a lot happier if they’d been able to draw a cartoon that matched the doll, though.

  26. @ slave2tehtink
    It’s Fatso, the Fat Arsed wombat. Roy & HG tried to make him an unofficial mascot of the Sydney Olympics….I saw a couple get “spoken to” by security at the Women’s soccer finals for draping a towel sized banner of Fatso over their chairs.

  27. Thanks everyone for your comments. Wonderful stuff that we can take note of for the future. Yes we don’t have the wherewithall for economies of scale and it’s just the beginning of something we hope will develop.
    There seems to be quite a bit of controversy over the skin tones. We did our best there and since there are darker Indigenous looking dolls already on the market we tried for something that depicted girls of mixed race with darker skin. All the dolls have some genealogies worked out which may (or not) emerge in future stories.
    We’re giving it a go. It’s not easy swimming against the tide of raunch popular culture served up to children these days but onward and upward!
    Helen, Australian Girl

  28. All I can say that after spending a fortune on nothing but trash for Christmas I wish I had discovered these dolls a lot sooner and given my 3 daughters beautiful high quality dolls that they will get the distance out of and that I would much prefer the sight of than a Bratz doll. I love the fact they their hair can be brushed as this is such a must for my daughters. Thankfully I have one daughter having a birthday in early February and plan to get her one of these dolls and no doubt her sisters will all want one. Thank you Helen. They really are refreshing for the Australian markets and I’d prefer to keep some of the money in this country at this time. Thanks. No doubt you’ll be hearing from me in the future with an order.

  29. insider info!there will be an australia day sale online for australian girl dolls.

  30. Australian Girl doll,
    How nice to see a doll on the market thats not a sex symbol like some of the other dolls available today,
    These cute little dolls look healthy & promote exercise & the great outdoors. Not makeup & fashion,
    Congratulations You have the thumbs up from me,
    Hope Australian girl is a winner,


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